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Innocence Project Asks New Jersey Court to Overturn Murder Conviction

The Innocence Project filed a motion before a court in Somerset County, New Jersey, urging the court to reverse the murder conviction of Gerard Richardson based on new DNA evidence. Richardson was convicted of a 1994 murder based largely on a bite mark found on the victim’s body that a forensic dentist claimed matched Richardson’s teeth. New DNA testing of a swab taken from the bite mark excludes Richardson as the source and points to another male perpetrator.

Somerset County Prosecutors are opposing efforts to exonerate Richardson. Read more.

Wisconsin Introduces Improved Compensation Bills

Two bills to compensate Wisconsin’s wrongly convicted are gaining bipartisan support in the state where exonerees are currently compensated only $5,000 for each served in prison, with a maximum of five years. According to Wisconsin Innocence Project Co-Director Keith Findley, Wisconsin offers the smallest amount of compensation among the 29 states with similar statutes. Read more.

What You're Saying

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James W., on a post about Cameron Todd Willingham: “This was a clear miscarriage of justice, by a criminal justice system that was, and is, indifferent to the question of innocence. Am delighted to see that there are those willing to pursue justice for Todd Willingham. May his troubled spirit at last find peace.”

Val B., on a post about Bennie Starks getting his Certificate of Innocence 17 years after becoming our client: “Oh, the wheels of justice are terribly slow. I am thankful for the diligence of the Innocence Project.”

Cameron Todd Willingham’s Family Calls for Investigation Into His Execution

Cameron Todd WillinghamRelatives for Cameron Todd Willingham held a press conference at the Texas capitol Friday to urge the state to conduct an investigation into his wrongful execution. Last year, Willingham’s family filed a posthumous pardon petition before the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles asking that the state pardon Willingham, who was executed in 2004 for the arson murder of his three daughters despite compelling evidence of his innocence.

Willingham’s conviction was largely based on the testimony of a state fire marshal and informant Johnny Webb. Nine leading forensics experts have reviewed the evidence in Willingham’s case, and all have found that the fire marshal’s conclusion of arson was not based on valid science. Prior to Willingham’s execution, Webb acknowledged in a handwritten “motion to recant” that Willingham never confessed as he had claimed and said he was forced to lie by the District Attorney.

Read more about the case and send a letter to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, asking them to investigate Willingham’s case.

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Prosecutor in Michael Morton Case Resigns

Kirk Odom prepares to speakFormer Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson, who faces criminal contempt and tampering charges for failing to turn over evidence pointing to the innocence of Michael Morton, has resigned from his post as Williamson County District Judge. Michael Morton spent 25 years in prison after being convicted of the murder of his wife before DNA testing of crime scene evidence proved his innocence and identified a convicted offender in the national DNA databank as the perpetrator.

At the behest of the Innocence Project, the state convened a Court of Inquiry to investigate whether Anderson committed criminal acts by failing to turn over evidence pointing to Morton’s Innocence. In April, a Texas judge ruled there was probable cause to believe Anderson violated three criminal laws, and he was charged with the offenses. The Texas Bar Association also brought ethical charges against Anderson. A trial on those charges was scheduled to begin today but was adjourned for a month.

Read more.

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Victory for Michigan Brothers in Eyewitness Identification Case

The Innocence Project filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the request of two brothers, Raymond and Thomas Highers, to call an expert in eyewitness identification memory and perception at their planned retrial for the 1988 murder of a Detroit man, Robert Karey. In August, the Highers’ convictions and life sentences were vacated based on new evidence strongly suggesting that the Highers are innocent, as they have always maintained. Last week, Wayne County Prosecutors decided not to move forward with the retrial.

The Highers’ convictions were based almost entirely on the testimony of an eyewitness who identified Raymond Highers as one of two men he saw fleeing Mr. Karey’s house. This witness estimated that he was about 60 feet from the fleeing men at dusk, and that he heard a series of gunshots coming from Mr. Karey’s house just before he saw them running.

A 2009 Facebook chat between two alumni of Detroit-area high schools in the late 1980s led to the discovery that the two men who were fleeing from the scene weren’t the Highers brothers — or even Mr. Karey’s killers. Instead, they were two recent high school graduates who had gone to buy marijuana from Mr. Karey but were suddenly confronted by a group of men who brandished weapons and told them to leave, which they did.

In this case, the eyewitness maintained that he was 100 percent certain of his identification of Raymond Highers. It is critical that jurors understand that confidence, which is very convincing, is not well-correlated with accuracy and that it can be inflated by factors that come to light after the crime.

Read more.

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Why I Give

Antonio MorawkiAntonio Morawki
Redondo Beach, CA
Software Developer

I first learned about the work of the Innocence Project through a PBS program on Cameron Todd Willingham’s case. It really resonated with me. To me, the biggest problem in the world is simply that justice is so scarce. There is such a huge imbalance between people with means and the people without. What happens to the people without once they get tangled up in the criminal justice system’s machine? In my view, the justice system is a grinder. It’s really hard to extricate yourself once you’re in. I donate because it’s the easiest way to give back and help correct these imbalances.

Join Antonio and make a donation to support the Innocence Project today!

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