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May 27, 2009

LKL WEB EXCLUSIVE: DNA Proves They Are Innocent

Posted: 05:35 PM ET

Note: Jerry Lee Evans became the 20th person in Dallas County in the past 8 years exonerated for crimes he did not commit.  Jerry walked out of the courtroom a free man Wednesday afternoon after serving almost 23 years in prison, and he joined Larry to describe his emotions.

Two other innocent men who went to prison and were later exonerated will also be on LKL tonight, and they've written an LKL web EXCLUSIVE on what their first moments were like after they were set free.Dallas-Jail

By Patrick Waller, exonerated on July 3, 2008

After 16 years, 2 months and 24 days of being incarcerated – I heard the four sweetest words of my life – You're Free To Go!!! Words I was beginning to think I'd never hear. It's been like Christmas every day since. Losing your freedom unjustly for that amount of time cannot be expressed in words.

My first day of freedom was a true breath of fresh air! I actually kissed the ground – after I kissed my mother of course. Investigation Discovery's cameras for Dallas DNA captured my greatest moment of my life in vivid detail. They also captured my first beer after incarceration – which will be a lifelong memory.

I can relate to what Jerry Lee Evans is probably feeling at this exact moment. I would tell Mr. Evans if I was in Dallas today instead of in LA for Larry King Live that exoneree to exoneree – I welcome you home and I welcome you to a growing brotherhood of exonerees. Please don't allow your past to hinder your future!

By Steven Phillips, 18th Exoneree from Dallas County – exonerated on August 5, 2008:

"Exoneration!" After 26 years in prison for crimes I did not commit – what could be better to hear than a Dallas judge announce "I find you actually innocent."

What made that moment even sweeter was my mother was in the courtroom and heard these words. She had also witnessed my wrongful conviction in 1982 and was there to see this awful experience come to a close.  My daughter, Skipper, heard it.  She was six years old when I was sent to prison and grew up to be an amazing woman while I served time.  My son, Zachary, heard it too.  He was born shortly after I was incarcerated.   I met him for the first time at my exoneration hearing.  That long overdue father/son hug is something I will never forget.  Zachary served our country and is a two tour Iraqi veteran – I could not be prouder! Finally my girl, Connie Jean, heard it – and then the whole courtroom heard her exclamation – Hallelujah!

Shortly after getting my GPS ankle bracelet cut off at the exoneration hearing – my family and I went for a swim. I had technically been on parole for the six months before my exoneration – so I had a GPS bracelet on my ankle tracking all my movements. Swimming wasn't allowed – so it was something I was craving to do now that I was a free man. I did a big flip into the pool – the splash was enormous.

Soon after being released I caught up with as many family members as I could. Especially my other son, Andrew, who has gone hunting and fishing with me every chance we get!

However, that day I was finally exonerated after 26 years of wrongfully serving time for crimes I didn't commit – that was a day The Lord made!

NOTE: Waller and Stevens' stories are told in the show, "Dallas DNA" – airing on Investigation Discovery.

Filed under: Justice • Larry King Live • LKL Web Exclusive


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francine nole   May 27th, 2009 6:41 pm ET

I am so proud of the way Steven has handled this,I can't even begin to imagine how he handles the years he has lost, and the memories he will only hear of but never had the opportunity to experience.How do you make that up to someone time cannot be replaced. I am so grateful to the innocence project and Craig Watkins for having the courage and perserverance to right a wrong. Now the healing of a life interrupted can begin.


LacrosseMom   May 27th, 2009 7:37 pm ET

Thank God for DNA!


tony gentry   May 27th, 2009 7:41 pm ET

Not every one in prison is guilty.U wuold be suprised what people are in prison for now days.


Jay wilson   May 27th, 2009 8:43 pm ET

With D.N.A. so available any inmate serving a life sentance in the U.S. should be tested within a year of being sentenced with the permission of the inmate.


John   May 27th, 2009 9:15 pm ET

Can these people sue the city? How can you put a price on 26 years of someones life?


Sari   May 27th, 2009 9:16 pm ET

I believe that DNA testing, when samples are available, should be part of a mandatory review of all cases decided before the technology was available. Yes, the cost is enormous, but compare that to the cost of the life of a wrongly convicted innocent man or woman- just one. The testing and review process is the better bargain by far.


Maralyn Smith   May 27th, 2009 9:17 pm ET

Larry, Do you remember back when you were a disc jockey and one evening you put your stack of records on and left the studio to visit your girlfriend. When you got in your car to go back to the studio, you turned your radio on and hear one phrase of the recording being played over and over and over again. You don't know how long. I remember you telling about this episode years ago when you were hosting a radio program.


deb b   May 27th, 2009 9:20 pm ET

Yes, I have comments about our Justice system,police officers,correctional officers mostly about their ability to handle stress, drugs, alcohol,violence,and abuse. It seems at least in St.Louis,MO city and county ,as well as East St.Louis,Sauget,and Illinois that police corruption,theft,lieing ,covering up ,falsifying reports,neglect to prisoners and or those arrested under false charges are a problem and I want to know what I can do and if your audience and you Larry King could have a show addressing some of the issues that the booklet titled "Suffering in Silence" wrote by the ACLU in St.Louis,MO can be addressed,exposed,investigated by outside resources,the public,legal organizations,dept.of Justice,FBI,Sheriffs Dept.'s, Chiefs of Police, and the Police Board of Commissioners. St.Louis Chief of police is doing a survey. What is this all about?
And first they denied all the accusations of the ACLU about Abuse,violence,rape,medical neglect,prejudice,discrimination,etc...... but now the Board of Alderman have a meeting to discuss what is already known. And I think the "so called " survey is a joke!
Addressing the issues and concerns directly and honestly might be asking too much of our "chief of police", Dan Isom of St.Louis,MO. So, I ask your viewers too what they think about me who was assaulted,abused,neglected,and I am a woman who did not break the law and was falsely accused of something that the cops of the St.Louis city police dept.'s first and third district officers made up and put in a police report. So ,I am a direct WITNESS.Are their any other witnesses or victims out there that have not come forward yet? If so, I ask you now. Come forward and contact the Internal Affairs,Mayor Slay,Jennifer Joyce,Dan Isom,your local newpapers,your local news stations so it will be "LOUD AND CLEAR" there is a serious "ONGOING" problem that keeps being AVOIDED or swept under the rug. And that has to do with police corruption,political campaign pay offs & donations, and corrupt politicians in St.Louis,MO, city and county as well as East St.Louis,Sauget,and the Illinois state police as well. Can we brain storm as citizens & stand up for our RIGHTS! Please being a Victim is something that is not a good feeling. I know from personal experiences I went through on 2/7/09-2/9/09. I called upon the Dept. of Justice to come in and do some internal undercover investigations. What do you think about that? And do you think we can get the TRUTH on National TV? On CNN and have the witnesses and correctional officers,and police that have been or resigned due to their lies,drugs charges,corruptions,pay offs, etc...
Thank you. Sincerely your,
Deb .B. , Legal advocate for abused women,children,& elderly in MO and Illinois.
God Bless All CNN staff and viewers.Together we can make a difference.
One day at a time with HONESTY coming first & Corruption being exposed just like Blagov. was and George Ryan was people and the media are great tools for Communications!
I find nothing entertaining about ch.5 having a reality show with Blagov. wife on it & being paid 80,000$ per episode.
It is like corruption makes you a CELEBRITY? IT is INSANE! Justice is about Truth. Because of the actions of Blagov. & his wife and cohearts in CRIME they stold money,are criminals, have been indicted, and now and prime time tv station I thought had Values and Morals and respect for the Law and Justice. Has just proven me wrong.Wow, what a blow to a person who is not entertained by corruption,lies,crooks, theifs,dirty cops,corrupt politicians in St.Louis,MO,East St.Louis,Illnois,and Sauget , Illinois. Even the mayor should be confronted and interviewed as well as our court administrators,circut clerks,judges,and attorneys who also participate and add to the problems of innocent People being VICTIMIZED AND IMPRISONED when they / we are Innocent! Thank you for the Blog. Deb.B., St.Louis,MO 5/27/09


deb b   May 27th, 2009 9:21 pm ET

Thank you CNN for all you do! DEB.B St.Louis,MO ,Legal Advocate for Abused women,children,& the elderly in MO & Illinois.


Lagoz   May 27th, 2009 9:37 pm ET

What a curse is to be a poor African American in the "UNITED" States of America....22 years is more than a curse...


Shanqueeta   May 27th, 2009 9:38 pm ET

22 years, and all they can say is sorry, he should sue!!!


Buck Naked Booda   May 27th, 2009 9:39 pm ET

I hope this man finds peace in his life.


Rob   May 27th, 2009 9:40 pm ET

To Steven, congratulations. Keeping hope alive for 22 years must have been incredibly difficult. There is no amount of money that can return a lifetime, but freedom will be the sweetest reward.

Knowing what we know today, and the numbers of exonerations that have taken place, I believe there should be a moratorium placed on all Death sentences until those cases are reviewed and in fact can not be cleared with today's DNA technology.


carey   May 27th, 2009 9:40 pm ET

DNA testing is very expensive. What do innocent prisoners do if they can't afford the testing?


Leigh Usher   May 27th, 2009 9:42 pm ET

There is not a price tag on life. No matter what the State of Texas does for these men will NEVER, ever match what they have lost.


Dodie ~ California   May 27th, 2009 9:42 pm ET

Jerry is thankful now, but he will definitely go through the stages of denial, rage. depression and if he is lucky, acceptance that his life has been taken away....


Leigh Usher   May 27th, 2009 9:44 pm ET

To Dodie~California I am VERY good friends with one of the gentlemen that are going to be coming on next. I feel he is more adjusted than I am in life!


danibee   May 27th, 2009 9:47 pm ET

WHO IS THE PERSON WHO ID HIM, SHE NEEDS TO APOLOGIZE! HAPPY THAT HE'S A FREE MAN, BUT 22 YRS HOW CAN HE BE THE SAME EVER


Sherman Crockett   May 27th, 2009 9:48 pm ET

As an African American man I am so tired of black men being unjustly sent to prison for a great portion of their lives. This lets me know that racial profiling is at the heart of this problem. I hope that Attorney General Holder looks into this problem.


TJ   May 27th, 2009 9:49 pm ET

When are they going to prosecute Cheney and Bush??? We know they committed crimes and no DNA is needed.


Leigh Usher   May 27th, 2009 9:50 pm ET

To Danibee~I believe there is a lot of convincing done by the Dallas PD Detectives (or was).


marina   May 27th, 2009 9:50 pm ET

I know I should get "used to this" - the idea of innocent people being convicted. I know I should get "used to this" - the idea that most minorities (especially 10 or more years ago) received very poor representation and have false convictions.

Where is our sense of humanity? Where is our absolute love and respect for the Constitution?

The Dallas County DA is simply amazing! His candor is one I have yearned for - Thank you, sir!


Denis Lambert   May 27th, 2009 9:51 pm ET

How can you place a price of $80k per year for the 23 years this gentleman spent in Jail.

This is outrageous and a mockery!

So basically he is going to receive about $2 millions for his 23 years spent in Jail??? (and $80k a year from now on.... whooptidoo!!!!) and his Court appointed attorney seems to be happy with that... JESUS...

Dude... GET A NEW ATTORNEY! You should get at least... and I empasize... AT LEAST 10 times that...

I hope you will get more that that... don't get fooled


John redsoxfanatic   May 27th, 2009 9:51 pm ET

Mr. Jay Wilson,

DNA testing with the permission of the INMATE? Permission? I'm not sure what state you live in, but most of the states order DNA testing upon conviction. Not only that, but why would we ask permission of anything from a convicted felon? I understand that some people are found innocent and exonerated, but asking permission should not be a factor.

Once convicted of any crime, especially a felony, you should have all of your rights stripped...at least while your under sentence (probation or active sentence). You should be subjected to warrant less searches and drug testing. Lets put the people that deserve to be in jail where they belong.

Oh yeah, and I nearly forgot...we also need to start drug testing EVERY person who receives government benefits in any shape form or fashion. Upon the first positive drug test, that person should have their rights and privileges stripped as well!!!


Kaydub   May 27th, 2009 9:52 pm ET

C'mon people....Look at the number of African American men wrongfully imprisoned....If it wasn't for The Innoncence Project many of these men would be rotting away because of an unjust judicial system.....And we want to call Sotomayor racist? C'mon People!


danibee   May 27th, 2009 9:54 pm ET

LEIGH USHER- I BELIEVE SO, BUT I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT THIS TYPE OF STUFF HAPPENS!


Nicole   May 27th, 2009 9:55 pm ET

This is why I have changed my mind on the death penalty. God only knows how many people are on death row, wrongly convicted. Our justice system is imperfect.


Stuart Halbert   May 27th, 2009 9:55 pm ET

There is something seriously wrong with our justice system that continually allows innocent people go to jail for crimes they didn't commit. I feel so sorry for Jerry Lee Evans and his family. $80,000/year (plus) can not possibly make up for all those lost years.
Maybe, the prosecutors shall pay the tab. What happened to truth and justice?

Has anyone ever given the thought to the amount it cost to house Jerry Lee Evans all those years? Add that to the money that he will get.
What is the lost opportunity of this young man being imprisoned? Who knows what his contibution to society would have been? What about the contribution of his children? Mutiply this by every man or women wrongly accused sitting in prision or who have died in prision for something they didn't do? Guess that is why I no longer believe in death penalty.


Elaine   May 27th, 2009 9:57 pm ET

Outrageous, they execute how many people in Texas a week? What is wrong in Texas? Can we give it back to Mexico?


jimmy   May 27th, 2009 9:58 pm ET

this is another example of Texas injustice, black means guilty.


Cheryl   May 27th, 2009 9:58 pm ET

I have to comment on the courage that it takes for one to admit to a mistake. Massachusetts hides behind the conviction. Its all about a WIN and not about Justice.
Thank you for making a wrong – right!


Innocent Man   May 27th, 2009 9:59 pm ET

What about all the innocent people that were executed? Larry should have former President Bush back on his show for a retraction of that ridiculous statement that he made saying he was sure that the folks that were executed. And then the families of the wrongly accused should sue him.


Brent   May 27th, 2009 10:00 pm ET

whats truly sad is that although Mr. Watkins and his office has single handidly tried to rectifiy the mistakes of the past administrations his office is being threatened with mass budget cuts which could force the DNA project to stall as well as cost dozens of hard working prosecutors their jobs.

The Dallas DA's office is doing great work and should be funded appropriately so that they may continue to do great work and more importantly do their best to make sure mistakes arent made in the future!

If anyone else finds the fact that the Dallas DA's office is being forced to make outlandish budget cuts let your voices be known to the county commissioners of Dallas County.


angela   May 27th, 2009 10:00 pm ET

I AM SO HAPPY FOR THESE MEN, THE POWER OF REAL RIGHTEOUS ANGER KEPT YOU ALIVE.


Gary   May 27th, 2009 10:01 pm ET

And the states continues to sanction the death penalty


Steven   May 27th, 2009 10:03 pm ET

are they really going to stop DNA testing because all the states are being sued due to the last 8 years of abuse and with these persons getting out after 16 to 26 years will sue and get more money then it would have cost to bail out a small town or city. It is great the men cases were resolved and I hope they get every enjoying moment of freedom they can get with accrued time for future issues....


John Dalton   May 27th, 2009 10:05 pm ET

Mr. King My son john was attacked outside of his apartment house at the age of 14 defending his mother. After being bashed on the head he fought off the attack and got the gun off the decease who was in the process of being attacked herself. My son ran into the house after the shooting and call 911. That call was denied to the jury. No Fingerprints were taken from the shells nor from the gun itself after the being hit in the head. DA said no deals were made for persons against my son but in a phone amends to the Decease Mother from my son she said Deals were made. I am a Veteran on Disibility and our plight has fallen on deaf ears. He was sentence to 7-Life this happen when he was 14 years old he is now 33. Can someone Help us in this plight. He recently spoke with the decease Mother for 3 hrs and that went fine but was hit again in march for another 2 years for the NATURE of The Crime. CO's/In house probation officer /Crime Victim 's services don't understand it. Yours Truly John P. Dalton


jimmy   May 27th, 2009 10:05 pm ET

another example of texas injustice, black equals guilty, while some redneck gets away


Carolyn   May 27th, 2009 10:05 pm ET

Remember this story the next time you are tempted to CHEER for the death penalty – and yes, we HAVE killed wrongfully convicted in the name of "justice." Life in prison without parole is much cheaper than the death penalty (check it out for yourself) AND if someone is found innocent they are still alive to be set free.


Debbie   May 27th, 2009 10:06 pm ET

...And many innocent are convicted but there is no DNA to even have tested to prove their innocence. The prison industrial complex in our country is rediculous. How dare we–"the land of the free" incarcerate more people than any other nation in the world? Is it because it creates jobs? Is it because many are minorities and they provide free labor for many industries and states? What are we doing to people, families,a nd the children they leave behind?


jimmy   May 27th, 2009 10:06 pm ET

while old white men run the state backwards


fayettenam hoe   May 27th, 2009 10:08 pm ET

i have seen the same thing happen in fayetteville n.c.


Darlene   May 27th, 2009 10:09 pm ET

What happens when a prisoner is told there is no evidence left
or it has been destroyed in order to do DNA testing? The trial was
held in the early 1980's and DNA was not in existence. Does
anyone know what avenues to pursue in a case like this for an
innocent man?


Robert Crim   May 27th, 2009 10:10 pm ET

The disturbing truth is that conviction of the innocent is common in America - every day it becomes increasingly obvious to those who watch the courts that the system is pretty indiscriminate over whom it collects. Obviously, there are some real criminals in jail who need to be there. But, there are too many innocent, often because of the ultimate perverter of the system (money).

The most infamous and widely covered case in history prior to O.J. Simpson was Patty Hearst, and she was not only not guilty, she was framed by the government, which then abandoned all the cases against the real terrorists to keep its victory over her. It took a quarter of a century for that even to be partially redressed, and the repercussions still are being felt today by those who were involved.

The Hearst case is particularly troubling given the people you did have on your show - they obviously are not swimming in money and certainly don't have oodles of money to waste. If the Hearsts can't buy justice in America, who can?

RBC


ray   May 27th, 2009 10:14 pm ET

its this good for nothing generation of ours. that wants quick justice. and no throughness in cases.


Patricia/ Florida   May 27th, 2009 10:17 pm ET

Larry ,none of the injustice in the world should be cast out by true justice.and it is a shame in the eye's of any people... In ths country a man or woman should not have to live like that 22 years wasting time for a crime that he didn't do is so wrong to have to deal with.I hope that the law can see how it is so backwards.It can send a man to prison when he is not the person that did the crime,and yet get in the way and rule and say if the same-sex wish to marry...WOW......


James Andrews   May 27th, 2009 10:18 pm ET

Your article doesn't say whether or not the DNA evidence exhonerates him or merely sheds doubt on the merits of his conviction. What other evidence had been presented at trial, and have you weighed it before praising this man for his innocence. Did the jury convict solely on the basis of blood evidence from the scene, or were there other incriminating pieces of evidence. I am CERTAINLY not saying he is guilty, but are you sure he is INNOCENT? You DO NOT address any other points of evidence during his trial. This, perhaps, makes for a successful story on CNN.com, but it does not make for an informative one.


Pat   May 27th, 2009 10:19 pm ET

At the risk of putting a negative spin on DNA results that have freed some who have been erroneously convicted, I do have to say that it is also making our legal system rely solely upon a piece of evidence, albeit powerful evidence.

there are times that our justice system hastens to act according to DNA without doing a thorough investigation of the activities of a victim leading up to the time of a crime. DNA, though powerful suggest that a person had been with another, but was not necessarily the last person alone with the victim. DNA alone should not be the determining evidence for conviction or release.

The burden is on the entire justice system, local police, prosecutors etc. to represent the rights of all; the victim and the accused. Too often, we hasten to convict those who are unable to afford attorneys that work in their favor. the injustice is generally related to those who
rely on public defenders who are overworked,low paid and friends of prosecutors and judges etc. I don't believe this is a recipe for the best representation.

when police reports fail to show where they have fully investigated the crime it is clear that the intent is to solve a case quickly without regard to the possibility that the person accused may not have commitetd the crime.
there is a particular case that is of concern to me, but I will not share the actual names, as I am not at liberty to do so. However, I will say that DNA convicted the individual as it was clear that the victim had been with the convicted, but what was not clearly shown in the police reports is the testimony of brothers and sisters who placed the victim at the young man;s home earlier in the day, nor was there full investigation of the older person that the accused said was the actual perpetrator.


Joyce A   May 27th, 2009 10:21 pm ET

If 20 innocent men have been released that means 20 guilty people are walking our streets, living in our neighborhoods, and probably continuting to secretly commit crimes. Do these cases go into the cold case files or are they trying to be solved?


Leigh Usher   May 27th, 2009 10:31 pm ET

@ Joyce A~In one of the cases BOTH men that were actually guilty admitted to it, but then the limitations had ran out and were unable to be sentenced. They were both in there for heinous crimes that could have been avoided 16 years ago.


Charles H.   May 27th, 2009 10:32 pm ET

I could tell you all about some of my run in's with the so called law but i dont have the time or space for it , anyway i hope these people can enjoy there life now but do not forgive. D.A.'s across the U.S. the cop's lawyers our polititicians all think what they say is law, they dont care if your gilty or not they just want a conviction plan and simple. It dont matter your race and i can say that I'm white and have been trough hell with our court system and had to prove myself not gilty not them prove me gilty, and after i wanted the people who lied on me to get charged with a crime of false police reports and they wouldnt do it. anyway what i am trying to say is there realy isnt any justice in the courts and i dont think there ever will be.


Eric   May 27th, 2009 10:33 pm ET

Way to go !!!


Anthony E. Walton   May 27th, 2009 10:34 pm ET

television programs such as Law and order, and the media paint ugly pictures of crimes and criminals, and there is not enough media attention given concerning the inhumane treatments of inmates durning and after incarceration. society believes in the system because of what they are fed through the media and TV programs.


Traci   May 27th, 2009 10:41 pm ET

All of this injustice could have been prevented if the world hadn't become so complacent with mediocrity. Its time people do their jobs like Craig Watkins and the integrity unit has done. Step up and show a passion for whatever it is you do! All it takes is one voice, one vote we can make a difference. "waiting on the world to change"!


Janet   May 27th, 2009 10:41 pm ET

Electing Craig Watkins as our District Attorney might be the smartest decision Dallas County voters have made. So much for the politics, the blame, the cynicism....As a very long time Dallas resident, I am sorely ashamed of the past behavior of our local court system.


Justin   May 27th, 2009 10:43 pm ET

Why aren't these DNA analyses conducted before the conviction (or before the trial)?


Ramona Williams   May 27th, 2009 10:43 pm ET

Larry, I don't know how those men feel. But I will pray for them and their family. I was detained and held nine months on a Identy theft charge filed by my sister. Which I didn't do.
I was knocked down over twenty or more steps. I don't believe it was
intentional. I did get hurt really bad. At the time of the incident I was denied medical treatment. My ankle was fractured , and my lower back was damaged, and I have seizure from the incident. I was just released on April 14th 2009.
My question? how can I persue a litgation against federal officers
in gross neglience compalint suit.
I live in Richmond, Virginia, I just received medical treatment on April 14th, 2009 when I was released.
I can't seen to find any lawyers that will help me with my case.
When I call a lawyer and say that I was hurt in neglience due to know fault of my own. They ask me to explain the case, and tell me I have good case until I say that the Federal Marshals did it.
Many lawyers tell me my Civil Rights were vioalted, Civil Liberties, Consitution Rights violated. I can't find a lawyer. My injuries are still visable.

What can I do Larry! Please, HELP.
Ramona


Charles H.   May 27th, 2009 10:44 pm ET

I have seen so much police abuse on people, and only when they are captured on tape do they ever get charged and yet this are the same people we are to trust with are safety? Well i for one will never call a cop again last time i did i went trough 3 years in the courts and never had a charge. I lost all trust in our courts.


james6024   May 27th, 2009 10:47 pm ET

The convictions of these innocent persons are perfect examples of abuses carried out by prosecutors and perpetrated through faulty circumstantial evidence and clever innuendo. There are hundreds or perhaps thousands of such examples across this nation.

These stories underscore the reason why we should not have a death penalty. There are obviously many many innocent people in prison whose lives have been taken away by an overzealous and abusive society. Perhaps not having a death penalty would be our means of assuring the public that no innocent person shall ever be put to death at the hands of the state, who obviously cannot get it right in every case.

Prosecutors and juries are human, which suggests they are imperfect and should not stand in judgment of the life of another, especially if that person is innocent. Perhaps sparing the lives of those who are unquestionably guilty is the only means of assuring we do not stand in the shoes of God and take the lives of those who truly innocent.


Charles H.   May 27th, 2009 10:49 pm ET

lawyer dont want to take them cases there to scard of being disbard or something, i tryed to get a lawyer to take my case against my county and the sheriff and was told to just get over it and i finaly just gave up.


Catherine McMillan   May 27th, 2009 10:54 pm ET

Only a small percent of cases have DNA evidence to exonerate the wrongfully convicted.

A former U.S. Attorney in Northern Illinois has said there are vast numbers of innocent people who are in prison who are innocent of the crimes for which they are convicted. Think about it...VAST numbers.

Think of it....vast numbers...this is the reality of our criminal justice system. I'm so sorry to all those family members who have innocent loved ones who endure a morally and financially bankrupt criminal justice system.

My brother was charged in 2004 with a murder that happened in 1982. Because there is DNA testing, now, the D.A. dropped charges, entered the DNA into CODIS and found the real killer. If you think about it, our law enforcement agencies have so much power, that they're not compelled to do DNA testing prior to charging an innocent person even now. Why didn't they enter the DNA from the crime scene into CODIS in the first place? Why didn't they ask my brother for a DNA sample first before arresting and charging him? Do our lives mean so little to our government? And why isn't there a requirement by the DA to report these kinds of errors for systematic review of systemic errors that need to be corrected. My brother has never returned to work and finds it very difficult to sleep, even five years later. On the other hand, we are so, so lucky there was DNA. We are so lucky to have our brother in our lives and not in the hands of the California Department of Corrections. My brother could easily be serving a life sentence right now or facing the death penalty.

There was that young man who was falsely charged in a high profile rape case who said, "there's a world of injustice that I never knew existed." That's the truth. That's the reality. And it's evident in the posts of those who have suffered grave injustices.

Thank you to CNN for showing this program of DNA exonerations. Thank you to D.A. Craig Watkins for your dedication to the truth and to justice. Thank you to our criminal defense attorney, Jack Early, who will always be our hero.


James Andrews   May 27th, 2009 10:57 pm ET

@Charles – I find it completely unbelievable that people feel toward police officers that way. Of course there are bad apples in the police as in all walks of life, but the police put their lives on the line for us everyday. PEOPLE HAVE DIED FOR YOU! Not just soldiers! Policemen and firemen. They have DIED for you! Enjoy your freedom to denigrate them ... a freedom they have provided you.


Charles H.   May 27th, 2009 11:02 pm ET

Till you have walk in my steps please dont tell me i should applaud them and give my thanks. I'm sure thare are some good judges lawyers and yes even cops, i just have never seen any. and i am a vet i'll protect myself i dont need or want there help.


danibee   May 27th, 2009 11:06 pm ET

@ JAMES ANDREW, THAT'S THERE JOB! AND THAT DOESNT MEAN THAT THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO HARM PEOPLE WHO HAVE NONE NOTHING WRONG. GO READ THE FULL STORY ONLINE, DNA PROVES HE WASNT THE MAN! exonerated !!!


Angela L   May 27th, 2009 11:09 pm ET

People with limited money who want their DNA tested to prove innocence can try to find an Innocence Project who will help them for a reduced cost. There is one in NYC at Cardozo School of Law.


Dan   May 27th, 2009 11:15 pm ET

Prosecutors have to much immunity! How come no law firms advertize malicious prosecution lawsuits. I checked the internet, yellow pages and even talked with a few lawyers. The Lawyers all said same thing. Prosecutors have too much immunity to sue. They all said the case against my son was malicious, there was no evidence, no arrest, Police said they were not persuing it any further. They never spoke with my son. But a prosecutor decided to prosecute my son. She had no evidence, no chance of winning the case. But with each pre trial she told the judge that she was working on new evidence and will have it at the next hearing. After tens of thousands of dollars spent on legal fees we had to pay, the day of trial she asked the judge for a dismissal.


Winston   May 27th, 2009 11:15 pm ET

This unfortunate miscarriage of justice is a good example for the abolishment of the DEATH SENTANCE, everywhere and forever, lest the blood of the innocent be on your hands.


C. J. Ford Jr.   May 27th, 2009 11:15 pm ET

Larry, My name is C. J. Ford Jr. founder of the “For the Innocence Resolutions” which is an investigative service for the Wrongfully Convicted. Here we are working on over 80 Evaluations directly from inmates imprisoned in California that say they are wrongfully convicted. If you “Google “C. J. Ford” you will see the scope of our work. One conviction particularly is the State of California vs. Kenneth Clair. Clair is on Death Row in San Quentin. We discovered that the DA’s office was secretly testing and withholding evidence that proved Mr. Clair was innocent. The DA’s office withheld and destroyed evidence. There were countless Brady Law violations. The DA has no reason to hold Mr. Clair. We exposed this in the local newspaper. This was over a year ago, and Mr. Clair is still in custody. The DA’s office here would rather see someone executed, than to reveal the fact that they were part of this prosecutorial misconduct. I am aware of Mr. Watkin’s work in Dallas County and spoke at a Board of Supervisor’s meeting saying that the program here in Orange County should be based on having DA’s that are more interested in justice than admitting they have wrongfully convicted someone. We have another case The State of CA. vs Zachary Pettus where DA can clear him but they refuse to run DNA. As far as the DA is concerned here- it doesn’t matter who they put in jail, of even if they are executed. They just want to convince the taxpayers that they are hard on crime. I wish that you could do a story on this injustice.


Vicki   May 27th, 2009 11:26 pm ET

I was arrested for domestic battery against my homeless sister, a crime I did not commit....being in jail for those 2 days knowing I did nothing haunt me to this day, I cannot IMAGINE your pain, I cannot imagine what 26 yrs of that would be like, I thought I would die for sure after just 8 hours. There is no greater humiliation in life, none than to be put behind bars like an animal.

My sister lied about the incident (totally made it up) to get into a womens shelter needing a place to stay. They of course reported it and one day I am getting ready for a Hilary Duff concert with my 9 yr old daughter and the cops took me away in handcuffs. I missed the concert, never being in trouble in my life I was totally freaking out, like soo soooooooo freaking out, I was like a wild animal in a cage, it was torture. Not everyone can handle jail....I for one can not, would not, could not, no way jose would I ever survive there.....the charges were eventually dropped but I am always so scared of one day a cop showing up and arresting me just because someone told them something.....I mean I do piss people off sometimes, is that all it takes? Rambling....bye.


jumper   May 27th, 2009 11:33 pm ET

Couldn't imagine living in a state where the people think execution should be an every-day event rather than a very rare punishment.

The compensatory lawsuits for this fellow will come. And, there is now so much evidence of police and judicial abuse in Dallas, there will probably also be a Federal civil rights suit against the city.

There are a lot of good police officers. They don't get any press.


Ruthie   May 27th, 2009 11:49 pm ET

This happens alot people. We need to wake up. No more taking money from a prosecuter to say the words he wants to hear in court, This happens alot. It's like a game. No more surpressing evidence that could leave jururs without a clear picture.

Also like previous post there are way too many people who make up lies to cops to get revenge. Men know all about this, How many men have been hit before, and not report it, to turn around and have a revengeful female accuse him of rape or battery.

I hate to bring in race, but it does happen so much more to black men. This is a shame. Every day I wake up to see another guy being found innocent. They need to study these cases and find out where all the flaws are. Is this coming from plea bargains or because the attorney was a state provided attorney .If thats the case that is sad it's sending a message that money can buy you freedom.


Charlene Harris   May 28th, 2009 12:04 am ET

My younger brother was sent to prison after his return from the US Air Force serving in VienNam for a crime he did not commit. The victim of a burgulary kept insisting my brother was inocent, but the prosocuter refused to listen. My brother had never been in trouble before. He subsequently commited suicide after a few months. He decided to face death than be kept in a cage for something he did not do. My first husband raped, tortured and beat my 20 month son to death and the crime was so heinous, the jury demanded the death penalty. He got a new trial and the sentence was 25 years to life on a plea agreement. He was released after 61/2 years by the parole board, I was never informed of the hearing and the good state of arizona expunged his records and all that remain are his DOC number. He is now a millionaire and I am still in shock. My daughter is currently on her third term in Perryville Prison in Goodyear AZ as a drug addict, never any treatment offered, she is coming home again in 61/2 months. She has served 13 years so far. I see no justice. Please hug this man that is coming home for me. Sincerely, Charlene Harris


Tina Jackson   May 28th, 2009 12:07 am ET

Hi, my name is Tina Jackson and I am the Chief Investigator for CJ Ford, Private Investigations in Fullerton California, and I am presently working on several cases of the wrongfully accused. We specialize in cold cases and cases for the wrongfully accused.
One of our cases involves Zackery Pettus, an inmate serving a Life Sentence for a murder he did not commit. Mister Pettus neither fit the description of the assailant, and we feel that once the DNA is tested, it will clear Mister Pettus once and for all. However, the Orange County District Office is refusing to let an independent forsenics lab test the DNA, which is who the Innocene Project of San Diego would like to run the necessary tests that are needed to clear Mister Pettus's name. Mister Pettus has been in custody over 25 years, without any tests being done.
Another case involves a Death Row inmate Kenneth Clair. DNA has been run on his case, and it clears Mister Clair, however, the Orange County DA continues to refuse to admit their mistake and release Mister Clair.
Another Orange County case is of Mister Ellis Williams, he is serving a 32 year to Life sentence for a drive by shooting with no injuries, and where the weapon used was found on another suspect that committed suicide with the same gun used in the shooting, and was himself a beating victim of the inhabitants of the home that was shot up. Also, there was a creditible witness that places Mister Williams elsewhere at the time of the shooting. A brief background check of the "victims" of the drive by is as follows, known drug dealers, gang members, known neighborhood bullies, and 'victims' of several drive by shootings previousily. Also, the lead detective investigating in the Santa Ana PD, that investigated the case is related to the drive by 'victims'. Another question. How is that this well known drug house and gang home, has never been raided by the Santa Ana PD? There is so much more to this case that I cannot list here. As with the other two cases I have detailed. Also, we have many other cases that come into our office daily from inmates and/or families and friends asking for help.


Drew In Houston   May 28th, 2009 12:12 am ET

You folks that don't live in Texas have no idea what goes on down here. It is truly unbelievable. What passes for justice here would not fly in the other 49 states. Liars permeate the states criminal justice system every level making it rife with corruption. These 40 DNA exonerations in Texas are the tip of the ice-berg but no one here wants to talk about how to fix it because to do that we would have to admit what's wrong. What I have learned living here for five years scares the hell out of me.


barbara junious   May 28th, 2009 12:19 am ET

My son's friend have been in jail for 23yr. And he is in jail today for a crime that he did not commit . I know that he could not have comitted the crime .Because there was a lots of witnesses to where he was at the time of the murder . Now C.J.Ford a P.I .Have been looking into his case and have found a lots of evidents that was not used. the County of Orange ,Ca. really railroaded him . There a lots of people in jail today that are innocence.The D.A AND THE COURTS would rather have a baby than to say they was wrong. when they know that they have trumped up charges. And planted evidence just to get a conviction. His in the innocent program now.I wonder what the system will say to him when he get out (which he will) I am sorry want get it .He have missed being a father and someday being a grandfather his blood line have been cut off.


John Parson   May 28th, 2009 12:29 am ET

DNA evidence doesn't necessarily mean these men are innocent. It just proves that there was a second party involved.No innocent man would be left in jail to rot for 23 years.

While I agree that they shouldn't have served time, I believe there must have been good reason that these men were convicted. The only thing DNA proves is that there was a 2nd person at the scene.

I weep for our justice system.


carey   May 28th, 2009 12:36 am ET

Try being a black man in Port St Lucie Florida. My grand daughters father was just sentenced to life in prison for "supposedly" raping a drug dealing prostitute. A condom was found in a sewer 6 months after the supposed rape and amazingly the dna was still there to process. State won't give information on the dna they took from him...it could be saliva. He didn't have $10,000 to have his own DNA test . And the lawyer who was paid $25,000 was negligent . He never deposed anyone and never gave my son in law any paper work, discovery, motions, etc
He was also arrested for fishing in a wildlife preserve and was given a ticket for $100.00, which he paid and still served 6 months in jail becasue his brother, who was with him gave a false name and my granddaughters father didn't tell the wild life officer his brother was not telling the truth. I sat in court (West Palm Beach) and saw how Bill Calvert the Wild Life Officer intimated his framily and mine as well as how nasty the prosecuter was. They looked right at us and laughed. I am a white jewish female. It was all I could do to not get up and tell this man who is to protect and serve where the sun dont' shine. He Wildlife officer has southern roots...was from Mississipi or Alabama, . The public defender was disbared at the trial as he never showed up becasue the prosecuter , wilf life officer has gotten him drunk the night before.The judge was very fair and son in law was released. Unfortunaley the wildlife officer and prosecuter were not happy with this and made sure that their house searched at 6:30 in the morning. Tore the house up and took dna mouth swabs and blood tests. OH yes, when he was released from jail, he was delayed 2 hours becasue they were doing mouth swabs then.... I truly believe that the wild life officer and prosecuter were out to get him and would stop at nothing to get him put away. . I really could go on and on, just really frustrated and would never ever ever trust a police officer in a state that has racisim written all over it. And they are getting away with it.
I am so happy for these men who are able to start their life over again. I can understand what their families had to endure. It is heart wrenching and quite devastating. Please pray for all prisoners who are innocent.


Mary   May 28th, 2009 12:41 am ET

JIMMY, it is people of your calibur that keeps racism going. If people take responsibility for their own actions, the world would be a better place. I have a loved on whom is wrongfully incarcerated and it's a black man denying him justice. Do I scream racism? No, the problem is that people hate to admit when they are wrong. Know what my loved one says about his conviction? Well if I was in college or doing something productive with my life, I wouldn't have got caught up in this....Are you that upstanding JIMMY?


Mary   May 28th, 2009 12:45 am ET

Many blessings to these men! And also a big congrats to the mother of our Supreme Court Nominee. You have done one amazing job. You raised a judge and physician in the Bronx. Proof that proper parenting and good choices pay off....You are idols!


Kathy   May 28th, 2009 12:52 am ET

Fellow contributors to this blog, I am amazed everyday when I open a letter from an inmate who declares their innocence or a loved one of an inmate who believes in their innocence and is requesting us, C.J. Ford Private Investigations, to assist them in finding a resolve to their cases.

It is true that everyone who claims innocence may not be, but with so many cases being overturned and so many lives being exonerated, because of a corrupt office or system, doesn't that constitute another look at a case that is in question? a re-investigation of the facts?

We here at C.J. Ford Private Investigations believe it does.

It is irresponsible for us to ignore the fact, that all across this great nation, many innocent people are being sent to prison and some even executed for crimes they did not commit.

Isn't that murder?

Isn't that a crime?

Who are the real criminals?

CJ Ford Private Investigations is determined to find out.


Garnett Alcindor   May 28th, 2009 12:56 am ET

I thank God for these men who were released and have faith that the govt. steps in and free's the thousands who were wrongfully accused. No amount of money can repay them for the time lost... but at least they are free. That must have been torture to sit in a prison all those yrs amongst real criminals. I'm so happy for them!


Jeanmaire Brunner   May 28th, 2009 1:02 am ET

Larry, I have a brother in the State of Texas that has been sentenced to a crime of this nature and he is serving 45 years with NO DNA. I keep seeing these people, from the State of Tx that have been wrongfully accused and keep praying for a MIRACLE. The problem is if you dont have money, you are truly at a loss. I promise you that Our story is a story worth airing. I live in the State of Arkansas and we have exhausted all avenues. I assure you if anyone would take this challenge on, it would be a GREAT STORY! We dont want money .We just waNT justice. Please Direct us and Give us the Miracle that I KNOW will happen!!! Thanks for taking my E-MAIL!!!! Jeanmaire


Mary   May 28th, 2009 1:02 am ET

That's a cheap shot at free advertisement CJ Ford Private Investigations. Unfortunately, all investigators claim they care. How many probono cases do you guys do a year?


CRLOS   May 28th, 2009 1:05 am ET

Watching your show on those who have been wrongly convicted and served such lengths of time is wrong. I wish you would do a show on men who's lives have been wrongly destroyed by the justice system and their misuse of the law and commiting child support fraud against these men and keeping those who have proven their cases under the systems thumb. It's not a justice system, it's just a system.


Mary   May 28th, 2009 1:06 am ET

Nancy Grace is an obnoxious pessimist. Can't quite figure out what CNN sees in her...


Kathy   May 28th, 2009 1:10 am ET

Well Mary, we are not attempting advertisement as much as we are determined to publicize the cases we are currently fighting for. As for pro- bono cases, I am so glad you asked.... We have a Foundation in which is funded by concerned people and organizations, so that we may take indigent client's cases, and we currently have a list of clients that fall in that category, and we are evaluating each one of them. It's a business, no doubt, but our business is to care....

C.J. says, "Our clients are not an interruption to our work; they are the purpose of our work"


Kevin jones   May 28th, 2009 1:16 am ET

Why are people so surprised about this. This has been going on for decades to the 10th power. It is only news worthy because you got a couple of white people done wrong. Eric holder should dig deep into the past to find people that are dead and gone and clear their names. To the people who helped convict these people should go to prison their self.


Tina Jackson   May 28th, 2009 1:17 am ET

A comment to Mister Parson and others like him.
These men are in prison today because the DA did withhold evidence, plus, ineffective defense counsel. It is very naive thinking by the public that is not in the courts everyday to see the highly suspect behavior by some DA's and a very ineffective defense put on by some of the defense attorney's. Plus, the 'olde boys' network going on between the prosecution, judges, and even some defense counsels, both privately paid or public defenders.
In the cases of Zackery Pettus, and Kenneth Clair, there was only one assailant in these crimes, that much has been established. There was also other evidence that clears these men that is very much in evidence. The DNA is just the icing on the cake, just like in so many other 'wrongfully accused' individuals cases.
The problem that we find is that the public misconception that the DA is 'always' right, and 'where there is smoke, there must be fire' theories. It is a dangerous and erroreous misconception that plays out in our court rooms everyday in this country. Plus, juries made up of conservative older white individuals are more likely to find for the prosecution. And that is what our jury pools have become. It was this type of jury pool that convicted Mister Pettus and Mister Clair. We need a much more diverse jury pool, to reflex the whole public at large.
Also, the public must open their eyes and take the blinders off, or one day it will be you or your loved one sitting in the defense seat looking at a life behind bars, because in the state of California alone, in the last quarter of 2008 alone, there were 172,008 people incarcerated. Your chances to be the next one seem to go up everyday, especially if you don't have money for a real good defense counsel, that has access to a good private investigator and forensic experts. And in this day and age, where the prosecution has access to all of these things, that is a fact!!!!


Mary   May 28th, 2009 1:17 am ET

No innocent person would be left to rot in prison for 23 years? What world do you live in? If the DNA isn't these defendants,and another person was involved, do you think these defendants would give the other person a free pass at life? If there is another person involved, it is our governments job to find that person. Look up the case of Roy Brown. A fellow New Yorker and his wrongful conviction. Talk about an amazing story!


Mary   May 28th, 2009 1:22 am ET

TINA, finally a voice of reason! My loved one was convicted by an ADA in Bronx County who was on her way to a judgeship. Her aunt being Aniya Florio. However, on her way she was fired from the Bronx DAs office for perjury. She then went on to practice as a criminal defense attoirney. She then was arrested for smuggling contraband to a client of hers in a prison. Yep, she convicted my love one!


Darryl Burton   May 28th, 2009 1:22 am ET

My name is Darryl Burton and I am a St. Louis native who spent over 24 years in a Missouri prison for the crime of capital murder that I did not commit. I was exonerated August 29, 2008. My case was not a DNA case. I was convicted on (2) snitch witness's testimony who made deals with the police and prosecutor to lie on me, because they had unrelated criminal charges pending against them. I would like to say that prison is 'hell on earth' and no U. S. Citizen who is innocent should ever be subject to this type of treatment. One thing that is really remarkable about most of these exonerations is that many of us have forgiven the people who did this to us. Now that is a miracle and it is hard for a lot of people to understand this kind reaction. It is my interest to educate the public about the fact that there are others who are in prison and they are innocent. So I am currently going around the country speaking about wrongful convictions and the problem concerning the criminal justice system, and earning a living to support myself because Missouri does not compensate exonerees for wrongful convictions unless it is DNA exoneration.


ginny   May 28th, 2009 1:25 am ET

Larry, Thank god you do programs like this-and thank you for your remark that you hate injustice-anyone who becomes involved in the judicial system discovers how broken it is–we in america represent 5 percent of the world population and lock up 25 percent of all the incarcerated population–but there is big money in crime so will it ever change??my child was given a 32 year sentence for an auto accident which resulted in loss of life-I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about the warehouses we call correction facilities.


Mary   May 28th, 2009 1:35 am ET

Darryl, your case sounds like my loved ones case, except there was only one snitch. Did you read above about his prosecutor? He's got 18 years down, 27 more to go. ...How do these people sleep at night (prosectuors, false witnesses and actual perps)?


Mary   May 28th, 2009 1:40 am ET

Darryl, how did you finally prove your innocence?


C. J. Ford Jr.   May 28th, 2009 1:42 am ET

Prosecutors fight DNA evidence even to this day especially when it is used to release a person that they victimized. In many cases the prosecutor knows that the person is innocent, but they still do everything in their power to convict and keep the person in custody. They even go to the extreme of allowing someone innocent to be executed. Believe it or not, when an innocent persons case comes forth in court, between the police and the prosecutor they will have some form of exaggerated evidence or collaboration that they will use against the defendant. The whole object is to win the case, not to be finders of facts, or to do what is right. When the District Attorneys office was formed it was to set out to find the truth, and somehow this has been perverted into winning at all cost.

I have a personal agenda against a justice system that wrongful incarcerates and imprisons anyone. I think that this is a traverse of what the justice system was set up to do and that the system should be exposed and pay for this act, which I consider criminal in itself.


Justice4Reggie   May 28th, 2009 2:14 am ET

If there is any help I can get from Activists, Legitimate D.A.'s / Attorneys or anyone who can possibly help regarding my brother's case, I would surely appreciate it. email: justice4reggie @ gmail.com Thank you!


Carolina   May 28th, 2009 2:23 am ET

I must say that all of these wrongful incarcerations are apalling to say the least. You can't give back someone all the years they have lost, with family, friends, loved ones and given the chance to enjoy life like any othjer human being should be able to, if innocent.I agree with putting a moratorium on death row sentences or any kind of sentence that at the time the crime ocurred, didn't have the availability an technical advantage of DNA sampling.This could potentially exonerate who knows hundreds of wrongfully convicted people. I will always believe: It is better to let a guilty man go free, than to take the liberty of an innocent person.....


Chris   May 28th, 2009 2:30 am ET

Even though I'm for the death penalty morally, I don't think we should continue it in the country as long as this keeps happening. I think the prosecutors and jurors in these cases should be punished.


Sonya   May 28th, 2009 3:50 am ET

What should you do, when there isn't any forensic evidence available and you have proof that the DA knew that the witnesses were lieing. Every defense attorney knows the former DA and is unwilling to help free an innocent to prevent the attorney from being disbarred. Corruption is everywhere and out Justice system can see and is victimizing the accused.


Peter A. Larsen   May 28th, 2009 4:19 am ET

CNN has talked about how DNA has been used to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent. There needs to be discussion on how DNA can be planted by law enforcement to gain conviction.

I along with other family members were with a individual in 1998 that was accused and convicted of rape and kidnap that we know positively could not have committed this crime and was convicted solely on DNA evidence that we know had to be falsified or planted by law enforcement in order to secure this conviction.


Sonya (Arkansas)   May 28th, 2009 8:28 am ET

I'm so happy for the freedom of my cousin Patrick. He always said that he was an innocent man. There's no amount of money that can replace his time lost with his family, friends, and society. God blessed Mr. Watkins and staff to be put in that position to help out the innocent. I want to express my gratitude to the other men that have been released. It may be hard trying to cope with life outside those walls, but things will look brighter for you in the future. Patrick, I want you to continue with your education and be all that you can be in life.


Jennifer   May 28th, 2009 9:26 am ET

Ironically a man in Dallas is freed of a crime he never committed while in Kenya, a man was freed of a crime he actually committed and was confident giving details of how he killed his father on air because of a land dispute. Am not against a second chance but please can someone explain to me what is JUSTICE. He was freed through what they call the President mercy. In jail we still have people who are innocent but convicted, others been their for petty issues and have not been given a chance to go court, still waiting. Even as His Exc. the President shows mercy, let him remember the innocent blood is crying for justice of those killed during the last elections chaos and the latest one , the victims of Mathira massacre killed by the unlawful group called mungiki, His Exc. the President where is Justice.


C. J. Ford Jr.   May 28th, 2009 9:32 am ET

More on the State of California vs Kenneth Clair (Prosecutorial Misconduct)
The District Attorney's office conspired with the Santa Ana police department (PD) and the defense attorney in the original trial in 1985 to exclude the only eyewitness, a young boy who actually witnessed the murder.

Police reports reveal that this boy told three different officers that the man who killed his baby-sitter was a white man. Clair is an African American. The boy's stepfather told investigators of the Santa Ana PD that Clair committed the murder and that his son's assertion that Clair was an African American was based on the fact that his stepson could not differentiate between races. The boy was immediately taken to the police department by the lead investigator where he was given tests and correctly identified different races, rebutting the stepfather's allegation. The stepfather belonged to a racist motorcycle group that excluded African Americans, and he was also convicted of a murder-for-hire crime and previously served time in prison.

As to the murder, the boy told the Santa Ana PD lead investigator exactly what he saw took place. The lead investigator concluded that the boy must have seen the murder because he told him details that corresponded exactly with the coroner's report on stab wounds and the placement of the victim's panties and other crime scene evidence.

Federal public defender investigators polled 9 of the 12 jurors in the case, and they all said that if they would have known about the testimony of the boy, they would have not convicted Clair. As to the other three jurors, one was deceased, one was senile and couldn't comment, and the other juror couldn't be located. This seems to Ford to prove that Clair would have never been convicted of this crime without the cooperation of Clair's own defense attorney, the District Attorney, and the Santa Ana PD.


C. J. Ford Jr.   May 28th, 2009 10:10 am ET

How Exonerating D. N. A. Evidence Was Covered up in State of California vs. Kenneth Clair:

D. N. A. Evidence found by C. J. Ford that the DA’s Office tried to hide after secretly testing. The following is bits taken from the article printed in the Orange County Register: January 5, 2008

DNA evidence from the 1984 slaying of a Santa Ana baby sitter doesn't match the man who has spent more than two decades on death row for the killing, authorities say.

Tests recently ordered by the Orange County District Attorney's Office indicate Kenneth Clair, awaiting execution for the death of Linda Faye Rodgers, is not the source of DNA found on the victim's body and on some nearby clothing, prosecutors said Friday.

But prosecutors say the DNA results create serious questions about the Nov. 15, 1984, slaying in a home on Wilshire Avenue.

Who left the male DNA? And how did it get there?

C.J. Ford, an Anaheim private investigator hired by Clair, now 48, called Friday for prosecutors to aggressively seek answers.

"Now they can find out who did it," Ford said. (END)

UPDATE: It has been over a year. The DA is still fighting to keep Clair in prison. After building a supercilious case around him in 1984, they are counting on Clair’s execution to keep this case out of the public. The last comment that was released by the DA’s office is that they still believe Clair did it, despite no physical evidence, they believe that Clair just was careful not to leave DNA evidence. This is the most ridiculous thing that any one with common sense could believe- but it is a crime solving technique used by our DA’s office. You would have to believe that Clair had a foresight in the future by being able to predict and cover up D. N. A. that did not exist back in 1984, and fool experts now days. It is very clear that D. N. A. testing today is far superior to test in 1984. Things that criminals knew and tried to cover up then, can easily be tested today. Since everything at the crime scene has been recently retested and other D. N. A. was found and it wasn’t Clair’s, then Clair did not do it.

Just like the DA’s office tried to hide the D. N. A., destroyed evidence, and committed prosecutorial misconduct, they are now hiding the results they ran of identifying the real killer. The DA has the D. N. A. and I believe the identification of the killer, but it is more face saving to have an innocent man executed than it is to admit that they build a supercilious case around a homeless, black man- that they thought and think that no one cares about.


Colleen   May 28th, 2009 11:55 am ET

I saw this story last night and so happy to see that justice is finally being granted to innocent people in Texas. I hope that the same attention will be given to those falsely imprisoned in Tennessee. My best friend Andrew Thomas is on Death Row at Riverbend Maximum Security Instution in Nashville, Tennessee for a crime he did not committ. Andrew has been in prison 12 years for a crime others have admitted that they set him up, ineffective legal counsel and perjury of witnesses. He has a legal firm which have taken his case pro-bono to rectify the wrong which has been done to him. Please keep him and others in your prayers.


Noni Lovechild   May 28th, 2009 12:11 pm ET

I am an African American women and criminal injustice system here in this country is appalling. My ex-husband is Canadian so my sons have duel citizenship. When my son was 17 he left and went back to Canada saying, "mom I am tried of being followed around every time I go into a store. He also said too many young black men that looked like him ended up in prison. It is sad when young African American teens lost faith in their country, know that they are targeted and realize that they will not be treated fairly by the courts. I let him leave two years ago. He came to back to the states to visit. The police stopped him and asked why couldn't they find him in their system as if all black boys are suppose to have a record. Good thing he has an alternative to live somewhere else. These men who DNA freed could be your son or my uncle. A black president is only the beginning; now its about changing hearts and minds.


Mrs. Clair   May 28th, 2009 5:47 pm ET

On behalf of Kenneth Clair that sits on California Death Row for a crime he did NOT comit let me just say it has been a struggle for the past two decades waiting for Orange County to take a stand and do the right thing and admit their wrong and set Kenneth free. Instead Orange County continues to try and find reasons to hold him capture with the hopes that he will give up but with the assistance of C.J. Ford Private Investigations the truth is being revealed on a regular basis and what they continue to ignore is that DNA clears Mr. Clair of the crime and this case is about corruption at its started from the prosecutor on down. Orange County secretly was running DNA on Mr. Clair in hopes to tie him to another murder and that backfired on them when it clearly pointed to someone else that would not have been named for that particular crime had they not tried to place another crime on a man they know is innocence. It's a sad day in America when you have the prosecutor talking to trial Judge and making deals with the Public Defender Attorney and everyone playing their game with one lie after another one cover up after another but what can we say they learned from their superiors one that recently was convicted (slap on wrist) and is out till July so he can attend his son graduations yet Mr. Clair is being held and has missed so many life's treasures that the State of California could never give back to him just because they dont want to look bad but sooner or later they will have to do the right thing and set him free and Kenneth and I stand on that against all odds but with the thought of knowing God has the last say so. If the DNA say "NO" then let him go or give him another day for all the current information to be heard and dealt with.


Connie Bivens   May 28th, 2009 6:30 pm ET

Why is it so difficult for individuals to admit they are wrong? Should our need to be right override someone's right to be free. In the case of Kenneth Clair we have been waiting for just that to happen. The justice system to admit it was wrong so that this man can be free. My question is with all the evidence to include DNA testing bringing reasonable doubt to his guilt whatever happened to innocent until proving guilty? I realize that statement is not accurate since I know when a person is arrested before they go to court they sit in the same cell, eat the same food, wear the same clothing as those that are guilty. It seems to me we have misquoted ourselves and the statement should read "GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT". With this thought in mind at the least doesn't Mr. Clair deserve a REAL day in court to present the evidence that will indeed prove his innocence.


Rose   May 28th, 2009 7:04 pm ET

DNA proves innocence. But many poor, black (minority) men have inadequate legal representation to begin with as they can't afford a proper legal team. I remember a documentary I watched about 20 years ago. A poor, young black man was accused of raping and murdering a white woman. He was on death row. There were so many issues of irregular statements by witnesses. He said he was innocent. He had a weak lawyer. Finally, a person came forward to confirm the accused was elsewhere at the time of the murder. They could now prove his innocence with required evidence and details.

The accused was about to be executed. This occured in one of the southern states, Texas I think. His lawyer called the governor asking for a stay. He could have been exonerated. No stay was given. The poor man was filmed walking to his execution. It was over. It was horrific.

DNA is a fairly recent development. Evidence kept from years ago needs to be preserved in a correct manner. Many innocent men have wasted their lives in prison and died due to one reason: being poor.


Kish   May 28th, 2009 7:24 pm ET

I think it is truly unfair to wrongfully convict a man that you have no proof of committing a crime. The crime that was committed is when The State of California locked up Mr. Kenneth Clair an innocence man. When will justice be served and when will The State of California give him back his life that was wrongfully taken from him by those cowards that we trust our lives with? In the famous words of the late Johnnie Cochran "if it doesnt fit, you must acquit". FREE Kenneth Clair! How can his ex Public Defender Attorney, the Prosecutor, Santa Ana Police and District Attorney Office individuals sleep at night knowing they sent a man to prison for a crime THEY know he DID NOT COMMITT? There's hope when you hear and read that Jerry Lee Evans has been set free which proves that standing by his faith not wavering paid off in the end. Pray now they compensate him in some way which they basically could never give him back his life but they should do whatever necessary to say they're sorry!


Mrs. Clair   May 28th, 2009 7:48 pm ET

Guilty until proven innocence is a fair statement but what happens in this case where DNA clearly does not match Mr. Clair but points to two other males in which The State of California claims they dont know who it belong to. Let's get serious here for a moment The State of California clearly knows who it matches but they refuse to let it be known because that would mean they knew this information from the beginning not to mention we are forgetting there were an eye witness to this murder that to this day still say it was a white man that did the murder and from what I see Mr. Clair is not white. What is wrong with this picture America. If the State of California knew without a doubt Mr. Clair was guilty of this crime they wouldnt havd had to falseify documents, reports, hid witnesses, make deals with the Prosecutor against his own client, say they lost evidence for over 15 years that was never lost and the list goes on so tell me who are the real criminals? Please keep in mind the jurors NEVER knew all these details and has signed Declarations that they would have NEVER convicted Mr. Clair had they known everything they hid and kept out on the case. And the higher courts call all of this "harmless errors" – WOW


Dan   May 28th, 2009 8:07 pm ET

Well I have heard of the work CJ FORD PI is doing, helping the wrongfully accused and I am glad Larry King took time to do this story. I read the story about Kenneth Clair and now after seeing the broadcast and to know that just in Dallas County alone 20 cases have been overturned, thats crazy. I heard that CJ FORD PI does does cases nationwide. were they involved in any of the Dallas cases?


Katt   May 28th, 2009 9:07 pm ET

Well, Dan you are right, C.J. Ford Private Investigations does work on cases nationwide but we have not worked on any in Dallas County as of yet... That is the work of the phenomenal Craig Watkins and his office. We would love to work with Mr. Watkins though, we are interested in playing a role in resolving any injustice, anywhere, that was inflicted by our broken justice system. It is criminal. I am also happy about Mr. King doing this story, and I hope he means it when he says he's against this type of injustice, because there are a lot more stories like the ones that he aired as well as those on this blog. that needs the attention of the people and the perpetrators of these criminal acts exposed!


Kristal   May 28th, 2009 9:37 pm ET

I am one of the nieces of Mr. Kenneth Clair. I was born in 1984 and unfortunately have never had the chance to meet my uncle face to face. Do you know what it's like to always hear about someone but never actually put the face and voice to the person? It's no different than a child who was born to a mother who died during pregnancy. They know that their mother loved them and they are told many great stories and shown many beautiful pictures; but they will never get the chance of having a personal relationship with their birth mother.

This is what has happened to my Uncle Kenneth. And many might believe that he deserves no sympathy because he is a convicted felon. But the TRUTH of the matter is, that Kenneth Clair is a FALSELY accused and convicted felon! He doesn't deserve to be imprisoned any more than the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks deserved to be murdered.

There are injustices everyday. But how can we have any justice if legal authorities don't even follow the law themselves? Every US citizen is supposed to be guaranteed to a fair trial. But Kenneth Clair, Jerry Lee Evans, and Steven Phillips weren't. Instead they were taken advantage of by crooked individuals who themselves committed crimes to falsify evidence and comvict innocent men. My question is, what was their reasoning? Did they want to convict someone so bad that they jumped at the first person they saw? Were they trying to meet a quota? Did they even consider the effects it would have on these men's family?

There are only two times in my 25 years of existence that i have witnessed this country TRULY united as one people regardless of color and socioeconomic status – Sept 11, 2001 and Election Day 2008. And with both of these events, it only took a few months for society to go back to their ways of hatred, prejudice, racism, superiority, and competition. Why call ourselves the United States, when we are clearly divided?

If you're reading this, why don't YOU choose to take a step in making a difference in this nation? Support C J Ford in his quest to bring true justice to Kenneth Clair and his family!

Thank you for reading this.


Robert Crim   May 28th, 2009 10:13 pm ET

To C.J. Ford, Jr., and the Clairs:

Has anyone thought to make an FOIPA request of the FBI? I'm in the process of moving and so have not had time to read all of these posts; however, when I read of dead babysitters and panties and stuff like that, the obvious conclusion to draw is murder the byproduct of a sexual attack. It is not possible to not leave significant trace evidence in such matters, including hairs, fibers, seminal stains (if there were intercourse), perhaps perpetrator's blood, bite marks, saliva, fingernail scrapings, and the like. There could have been tool marks, tire tracks, footprints, other evidence associated with entry, &c.,, cigarette butts, refuse, even dead bugs. There is no apparent federal jurisdiction here, so don't get any hopes up prematurely, but in 1984, given budget limitations, it would have been relatively common practice to make use of the FBI's crime laboratory and fingerprint repository in Washington, D.C., which can test all of this stuff. There also might be local investigative records at the L.A. field office or at the Santa Ana resident agency. If there were communication between Santa Ana, Los Angeles, and Washington, there would have been records kept, including teletypes and LHMs or inquiries through NCLC. I take no position on who is guilty or innocent here, since I obviously know nothing, but most certainly these are inquiries which must be made.

FOIPA requests are made pursuant to 18 U.S.C. sec. 552 [see also 18 U.S.C. sec. 552(a)]. Notarized permissions are needed to get at some records, and you may have to get a court order to get around claims of exemption, especially relating to information shared with outside law-enforcement agencies. There is a backlog of requests, so it is important to make an inquiry quickly, since it takes some time to get these records, then can take additional time to reverse redactions, &c.(not to mention go through the records carefully).

Also, what does the then-child witness say today? Has the story changed, or does the person stick to his or her guns? There are special problems attendant to interviewing children about traumatic events. No one yet appears to have said much yet about that.


yadira bellio   May 28th, 2009 10:24 pm ET

hi...!!!i do believe theres innocents people sent to jail because i have a brother sent to jail innocent, hes been in .jail since 1988 an he is a innocent man now we have DNA to prove his case but as usuall its always about money, all we need is for someone to truly hear our story lead us to the right direction so we can bring my innocent brother home for our family.its been a sruggle for our family to deal with this for over 20 years ....now its time to please get some help for my brother an innocent man......thanks you


C. J. Ford Jr.   May 28th, 2009 11:17 pm ET

Robert Crim- The boy is now in his twenties. When Federal Investigators interviewed him several years ago, he entered into the Federal Hearings a declaration into testimony because he was incarcerated for drug related charges. He stated basically that he does remember everything that happened. However, he says that if he told the 3 different police officers, and the lead detective that it was a white man that committed the crime- he was telling the truth because he did know about different races. He went on to say that his step father used the “N” word when he spoke about African Americans. He said that his step dad was a racist and he believed that his step dad had something to do with the murder.

This has been consistent with my investigation. The step father did belong to a racist motorcycle gang. His step dad did time in prison for a Murder to Hire crime. He did not pull the trigger, but he aided the man who did. Also, the baby-sitter threatened the step father and the boys mother that she was going to report them for welfare fraud. This case was filed against them anonymously, but mysteriously was postponed until after the murder case. The baby-sitter mother was interviewed and said that her daughter contacted her shortly before the murder and told her that she did not think that she would live to see her next birthday. These issues were not bought up at the trial. Also, the video tape of the interview by the lead investigator that the boy described the murder and demonstrated that he could differentiate between colors has mysteriously disappeared.

Hopefully you will be able to read the story on the web site, but feel free to contact me for additional information.

This is why I have nothing but respect for Mr. Watkins. He is like a hero to me. Watkins has pledged to prosecute DA’s that violate ‘Brady Discovery”. He is working with Innocence Projects and is trying to find the truth and punish the right people. Our DA here in Orange County doesn’t care about justice if it has to do with removing a win from his record.

When I say that the District Attorney doesn’t care if he puts innocent people to death, just to win a case, I am not exaggerating. In the case “State of California vs Thompson” Mr. Thompson was put to death under very suspicious evidence that materialized just as he was in the process of being exonerated. I have been looking into that case and it is the same DA that convicted Clair.


C. J. Ford Jr.   May 28th, 2009 11:20 pm ET

Sorry Robert, I meant to say the boy doesn't remember everything that happened.


Robert Crim   May 29th, 2009 12:05 am ET

Well, I have to pack the computer now, which means I have to disassemble it.

However, before I do, let me say that common sense tells me one cannot convict of capital murder on NO evidence; so, what does the DA have which makes HIM think your client is guilty? He presented something; what was it?

RBC


Carol   May 29th, 2009 10:49 am ET

I was just wondering who I need to contact to help get my son out. We now have DNA, fingerprints, blood and a picture that is proof that he was not the driver of the truck that killed two people. He was charged with second degree murder for the crime because the driver fled the scene. On arival to the hospital he stated to the police who the driver was. Due to head trama he did not remember the accident the next day. So they gave him 23 to 60 years at the age of 17. He has been there for nine years now. If anyone can please give me any information as to where I can send the evindence I would appreciate the help. Please e-mail me at cboughner@comcast.net
Thank You,
Carol


Connie Jean   May 30th, 2009 12:15 pm ET

WhenI I think of Integrity I think of Craig Watkins. I believe that he is the man that is a perfect example of rightness that we need in Public office. He represents Truth without Fear and that my friends is an honorable trait. He is not nieve," Justice is Truth", The Supreme Court would Fair well to have Craig Watkins on the Bench.

The Truth is what has set these Exonorees Free. Craig Watkins is a Truth seeker. He take that responsibilty seriously. I appreciate his courage to do what is right.


Fed Humphrey   May 30th, 2009 9:08 pm ET

My sister-inlaw's brother has been in prison since 1983 for a crime I am positive he didn't commit. The Innocence Project in SanDiego has taken his case. However, they seem to be working fairly slow. They have had his case for about 2 years and to date haven't done very much of anything. They have not even visited the prisoner yet. The prisoner's name is Zachar Pettus, he is incarcerated in Corcoran in California. I will not stop until Zachary is a free man. My brother (Zachary's brother-in-law) and I hired a private investigator, C.J. Ford Investigations, to work on Zachary's case. I would like to know how we can get some visabilty on Zachary's case. Anyone with suggeations can notify me. Thanks


Maggie Fitzgerald   May 31st, 2009 11:14 am ET

It is not only Blacks in Texas that have been wrongfully convicted. Cook County, Illinois has cases overturned very often in which innocent people have spent 12, 15, and over 20 years in prison for crimes they have not committed. Illinois has more coverups where they do not want to admit that the police, States Attorneys or judges have made a mistake in their convicting an innocent person. We pray that our States Attorney Anita Alvarez will be like States Attorney Craig Watkins and stop the coverups that were allowed by the former Dick Devine. No amount of money can make up for the years these men have spent in prison. Their lives and the lives of their families have been ruined. There are more blacks that this happens to, but there are also many whites and latinos in our prisons awaiting justice. Thanks to Larry Kind for showing this happens.


Regina   May 31st, 2009 11:33 am ET

There are so many what ifs in Kenneth Clair’s case. What if attorney Julian Bailey diligently represented Kenneth? What if assistant district attorney David Brent, acted on the questions raised by the 2008 DNA results? What if the DNA evidence was compared to an FBI database? What if the prosecution was interested in real justice and not obtaining another conviction or increasing his stats? What if Kenneth was white, and his family had money to provide for his defense?


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