Michelle Byrom Was Abused For Years & Then Almost Executed — But She’s Not The Only One!!!

Michelle Byrom Was Abused For Years & Then Almost Executed — But She’s Not The Only One

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In the tranquil town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, there’s a small house with an inviting backyard. There’s a sheepdog, Chelsea, who lovingly greets guests as soon as they get out of the car. There’s a porch full of garden knickknacks; faux frogs hidden in succulents, some tomatoes lined up underneath colorful wind chimes. And there, sitting peacefully in a wheelchair on a quiet July morning, is Michelle Byrom — a woman the state of Mississippi nearly executed — who is seeing her first few weeks of freedom after 15 years on death row.

Michelle’s story sounds like something out of a spy novel. She was convicted of a murder-for-hire plot against her abusive husband, Edward Byrom Sr., in 1999. According to prosecutors, Michelle paid Joey Gillis — a friend of her son — to murder Edward Sr. Her son, Edward Byrom Jr., confessed to shooting his father, unable to take his verbal, mental, and physical abuse any longer. But in an effort to protect Edward Jr., Michelle told law enforcement that she took full responsibility for her husband’s death.

 …..please, read more ….

 

NEWS ROUNDUP: Texas Man Jailed For 35 Years Without Conviction Gets Retrial…AND MORE

Originally posted on News One:

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A Texas man who spent 35 years behind bars without a conviction will finally get a second chance at justice. Jerry Hartfield, 59, has been incarcerated even though an appeals court threw out his conviction for the 1976 murder of a woman who sold tickets at a Bay City bus station. Today, Hartfield will return to court for a retrial. “Regardless of how the time is parsed out, the delay between the initial conviction in 1977 and the trial… is extraordinary,” said his defense attorney Jay Wooten. After conducting psychological tests, it was discovered that Hartfield is mentally impaired. If he is convicted again, he would be eligible for parole. Read more.


Will There Be An “Empire” Spin-Off?

Is there an Empire spin-off in the works? According to director Lee Daniels, there is. During a recent appearance at the Television Critics…

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You’re All Out: A defense attorney uncovers a brazen scheme to manipulate evidence, and prosecutors and police finally get By Dahlia Lithwicky get

You’re All Out

A defense attorney uncovers a brazen scheme to manipulate evidence, and prosecutors and police finally get caught.

 

Judge Thomas Goethals listens to arguments during a motion hearing in the trial of Scott Dekraai on March 18, 2014 in Santa Ana, California.

Photo by Mark Boster/Pool via Getty Images http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2015/05/orange_county_prosecutor_misconduct_judge_goethals_takes_district_attorney.html

Prosecutorial and police misconduct are often dismissed as just a few bad apples doing a few bad apple-ish things. But what happens when it’s entrenched and systemic and goes unchecked for years? That looks to be the case in Orange County, California, where the situation got so completely out of hand this spring that Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals issued an order disqualifying the entire Orange County District Attorney’s Office (that’s all 250 prosecutors) from continuing to prosecute a major death penalty case. … http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2015/05/orange_county_prosecutor_misconduct_judge_goethals_takes_district_attorney.html

Everton Wagstaffe and Reginald Connor, two Brooklyn Men Found Guilty of Kidnapping in 1993, were Finally Fully Exonerated on July 27th!

Two Brooklyn Men Finally Exonerated of 1992 Murder

Everton Wagstaffe and Reginald Connor, two Brooklyn men found guilty of kidnapping in 1993, were finally fully exonerated on July 27th after an intermediate New York appeals court denied the state’s motion to reargue an earlier decision reversing their convictions and dismissing the indictments against them based on prosecutorial misconduct.  Connor served 15 years in prison and Wagstaffe served 23 years.  The Innocence Project assisted Myron Beldock, Irving Cohen and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in the case.

Wagstaffe and Connor were convicted of the kidnapping of a teenage girl based almost exclusively on the testimony of a police informant with a substance abuse problem who claimed to have seen Wagstaffe abduct the girl and force her into a car driven by Connor. DNA testing of foreign hairs recovered from the body excluded both Wagstaffe and Connor, but the most probative physical evidence had been destroyed. Wagstaffe himself uncovered computer records showing that the police had targeted the two men a day before they even spoke with the informant. The prosecution had buried this evidence in a pile of other documents that were turned over on the eve of trial.  In September 2014, the intermediate appeals court reversed the convictions based on the prosecution’s failure to timely disclose the records and dismissed the indictment because the informant is now deceased.  In June, New York’s highest court refused to grant the Brooklyn District Attorney’s leave to appeal. This week the intermediate court denied the District Attorney’s motion to reargue, finally ending Wagstaffe’s and Connor’s more than two decade fight for justice.

You can read more about the case here.

 


Rhode Island Judge Reverses Murder Conviction of Raymond Tempest

Earlier this month, a Rhode Island judge reversed the murder conviction of Raymond Tempest, Jr., who has served 23 years for the 1982 crime.  The court based its ruling on the failure of police and prosecutors to turn over multiple pieces of evidence pointing to the defendant’s innocence and improper interviewing tactics by the police that compromised the evidence.

Controversy about the investigation has followed the case for years.  The murder had gone unsolved for nearly a decade before Tempest became a suspect in the case based on a tip from an informant who had been arrested by the defendant’s brother.  There was no physical evidence linking Tempest to the crime.  He was convicted based on the testimony of four people, vulnerable to police pressure because of their involvement with drugs or prostitution, who claimed that he confessed.

The Innocence Project and Betty Anne Waters, who inspired the movie Conviction through her heroic acts of putting herself through law school to exonerate her brother Kenny, are supporting the efforts of lawyers at of McDermott, Will & Emery in representing Tempest.  The case was adjourned to August 4th for the court to conduct a hearing to determine whether to release Tempest on bail while the District Attorney appeals the decision.

Read more about the case here.

 

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New Court Rulings Help Protect the Innocent

A string of recent court decisions will help protect against wrongful convictions.  In Commonwealth v. Bastaldo, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that in order to prevent eyewitness misidentifications, one of the leading cause of wrongful convictions, judges should instruct jurors about the dangers of cross-racial and cross-ethnic identifications.

In Maryland v. Norton, the Maryland Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution’s confrontation clause requires that the prosecution call as a witness the expert who actually conducted the forensic test rather than simply relying on his or her supervisor. According to Chris Fabricant, Director of the Innocence Project’s Strategic Litigation Unit, “This decision helps ensure that defendants will be able to challenge incompetent or fraudulent forensic evidence through cross-examination of the expert who actually conducted the test.”

In a case brought by the Rocky Mountain Innocence Project, a panel for the Federal Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in U.S. v. Watson that defendants should have access to the latest techniques in DNA testing and results from such techniques that point to innocence would constitute newly discovered evidence. The court’s ruling will hopefully help to provide easier access to new DNA testing in cases that depend on it and allow a greater number of people to pursue innocence claims.

The Innocence Project, either independently or in conjunction with the Innocence Network, filed friend-of-the-court briefs in all three of the cases.

Thirteen years ago today, Larry Johnson was exonerated after 18 years in prison in Missouri for a rape and robbery which DNA proved in 2002 he didn’t commit.

‪#‎TBT‬ Thirteen years ago today, Larry Johnson was exonerated after 18 years in prison in Missouri for a rape and robbery which DNA proved in 2002 he didn’t commit. ‪#‎innocent‬ ‪#‎exonerated‬ ‪#‎wrongfulconvictions‬

Innocence Projects Foto.

System Pressures the Innocent to Plead Guilty

System Pressures the Innocent to Plead Guilty

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Posted: July 27, 2015   3:44 PM http://www.innocenceproject.org/news-events-exonerations/system-pressures-the-innocent-to-plead-guilty

In an opinion piece published on Friday in the Washington Post, Sam Gross—a law professor at the University of Michigan and the editor of the National Registry of Exonerationswrites that recent statistics and exonerations reveal that too many people are pleading guilty to crimes that they didn’t commit. According to Gross, a full range of flaws within the criminal justice system, including a lack of investment in justice, are to blame. “We can do better,” demands Gross.

He writes:

How many people are convicted of crimes they did not commit? Last year, a study I co-authored on the issue was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It shows that 4.1 percent of defendants who are sentenced to death in the United States are later shown to be innocent: 1 in 25. . . .

The problem may be worst at the low end of the spectrum, in misdemeanor courts where almost everybody pleads guilty. . . .

In the past year, 45 defendants were exonerated after pleading guilty to low-level drug crimes in Harris County, Tex. They were cleared months or years after conviction by lab tests that found no illegal drugs in the materials seized from them.

Why then did they plead guilty? As best we can tell, most were held in jail because they couldn’t make bail. When they were brought to court for the first time, they were given a take-it-or-leave-it, for-today-only offer: Plead guilty and get probation or weeks to months in jail. If they refused, they’d wait in jail for months, if not a year or more, before they got to trial, and risk additional years in prison if they were convicted. That’s a high price to pay for a chance to prove one’s innocence.

Police officers are supposed to be suspicious and proactive, to stop, question and arrest people who might have committed crimes, or who might be about to do so. Most officers are honest, and, I am sure, they are usually right. But “most” and “usually right” are not good enough for criminal convictions. Courts — judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, sometime juries — are supposed to decide criminal cases. Instead, most misdemeanor courts outsource deciding guilt or innocence to the police. It’s cheaper, but you get what you pay for.

. . . It’ll cost money to achieve the quality of justice we claim to provide: to do more careful investigations, to take fewer quick guilty pleas and conduct more trials, and to make sure those trials are well done. But first we have to recognize that what we do now is not good enough.

Read the entire op-ed here.

– See more at: http://www.innocenceproject.org/news-events-exonerations/system-pressures-the-innocent-to-plead-guilty#sthash.rt1Ycq5K.03ZtpYv6.dpuf

Exoneree Band Formed by Men Freed after Wrongful Incarcerations Performs to Heal, Raise Awareness! Antione Days sings vocals for the Exoneree Band

Originally posted on HumansinShadow.wordpress.com:

Exoneree Band formed by men freed after wrongful incarcerations performs to heal, raise awareness (photos, video)

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