Innocence: List of Those Freed From Death Row

 

Last exoneration November 20, 2014 (#148)

For Inclusion on DPIC's Innocence List:

Defendants must have been convicted, sentenced to death and subsequently either-
 
a. Been acquitted of all charges related to the crime that placed them on death row, or

b. Had all charges related to the crime that placed them on death row dismissed by the prosecution, or

c. Been granted a complete pardon based on evidence of innocence.

For a fuller description of the criteria used in this list and the reasons why these criteria were chosen, see Section V of DPIC's most recent Innocence Report.  See also an excerpt below from an article in the Baltimore Sun by Dan Rodricks regarding the use of the term "exonerated."

The list includes cases in which the release occurred 1973 or later.

NR* NAME ST RACE CONVICTED EXONERATED YEARS BETWEEN REASON DNA **
1 David Keaton FL B 1971 1973 2 Charges Dismissed  
2 Samuel A. Poole NC B 1973 1974 1 Charges Dismissed  
3 Wilbert Lee FL B 1963 1975 12 Pardoned  
4 Freddie Pitts FL B 1963 1975 12 Pardoned  
5 James Creamer GA W 1973 1975 2 Charges Dismissed  
6 Christopher Spicer NC B 1973 1975 2 Acquitted  
7 Thomas Gladish NM W 1974 1976 2 Charges Dismissed  
8 Richard Greer NM W 1974 1976 2 Charges Dismissed  
9 Ronald Keine NM W 1974 1976 2 Charges Dismissed  
10 Clarence Smith NM W 1974 1976 2 Charges Dismissed  
11 Delbert Tibbs FL B 1974 1977 3 Charges Dismissed  
12 Earl Charles GA B 1975 1978 3 Charges Dismissed  
13 Jonathan Treadway AZ W 1975 1978 3 Acquitted  
14 Gary Beeman OH W 1976 1979 3 Acquitted  
15 Jerry Banks GA B 1975 1980 5 Charges Dismissed  
16 Larry Hicks IN B 1978 1980 2 Acquitted  
17 Charles Ray Giddens OK B 1978 1981 3 Charges Dismissed  
18 Michael Linder SC W 1979 1981 2 Acquitted  
19 Johnny Ross LA B 1975 1981 6 Charges Dismissed  
20 Ernest (Shujaa) Graham CA B 1976 1981 5 Acquitted  
21 Annibal Jaramillo FL L 1981 1982 1 Charges Dismissed  
22 Lawyer Johnson MA B 1971 1982 11 Charges Dismissed  
23 Larry Fisher MS W 1984 1985 1 Acquitted  
24 Anthony Brown FL B 1983 1986 3 Acquitted  
25 Neil Ferber PA W 1982 1986 4 Charges Dismissed  
26 Clifford Henry Bowen OK W 1981 1986 5 Charges Dismissed  
27 Joseph Green Brown FL B 1974 1987 13 Charges Dismissed  
28 Perry Cobb IL B 1979 1987 8 Acquitted  
29 Darby (Jesse) Tillis IL B 1979 1987 8 Acquitted  
30 Vernon McManus TX W 1977 1987 10 Charges Dismissed  
31 Anthony Ray Peek FL B 1978 1987 9 Acquitted  
32 Juan Ramos FL L 1983 1987 4 Acquitted  
33 Robert Wallace GA B 1980 1987 7 Acquitted  
34 Richard Neal Jones OK W 1983 1987 4 Acquitted  
35 Willie Brown FL B 1983 1988 5 Charges Dismissed  
36 Larry Troy FL B 1983 1988 5 Charges Dismissed  
37 Randall Dale Adams TX W 1977 1989 12 Charges Dismissed  
38 Robert Cox FL W 1988 1989 1 Charges Dismissed  
39 James Richardson FL B 1968 1989 21 Charges Dismissed  
40 Clarence Brandley TX B 1981 1990 9 Charges Dismissed  
41 John C. Skelton TX W 1983 1990 7 Acquitted  
42 Dale Johnston OH W 1984 1990 6 Charges Dismissed  
43 Jimmy Lee Mathers AZ W 1987 1990 3 Acquitted  
44 Gary Nelson GA B 1980 1991 11 Charges Dismissed  
45 Bradley P. Scott FL W 1988 1991 3 Acquitted  
46 Charles Smith IN B 1983 1991 8 Acquitted  
47 Jay C. Smith PA W 1986 1992 6 Acquitted  
48 Kirk Bloodsworth MD W 1984 1993 9 Charges Dismissed Yes
49 Federico M. Macias TX L 1984 1993 9 Charges Dismissed  
50 Walter McMillian AL B 1988 1993 5 Charges Dismissed  
51 Gregory R. Wilhoit OK W 1987 1993 6 Acquitted  
52 James Robison AZ W 1977 1993 16 Acquitted  
53 Muneer Deeb TX O 1985 1993 8 Acquitted  
54 Andrew Golden FL W 1991 1994 3 Charges Dismissed  
55 Adolph Munson OK B 1985 1995 10 Acquitted  
56 Robert Charles Cruz AZ L 1981 1995 14 Acquitted  
57 Rolando Cruz IL L 1985 1995 10 Acquitted Yes
58 Alejandro Hernandez IL L 1985 1995 10 Charges Dismissed Yes
59 Sabrina Butler MS B 1990 1995 5 Acquitted  
60 Joseph Burrows IL W 1989 1996 7 Charges Dismissed  
61 Verneal Jimerson IL B 1985 1996 11 Charges Dismissed Yes
62 Dennis Williams IL B 1979 1996 17 Charges Dismissed Yes
63 Roberto Miranda NV L 1982 1996 14 Charges Dismissed  
64 Gary Gauger IL W 1993 1996 3 Charges Dismissed  
65 Troy Lee Jones CA B 1982 1996 14 Charges Dismissed  
66 Carl Lawson IL B 1990 1996 6 Acquitted  
67 David Wayne Grannis AZ W 1991 1996 5 Charges Dismissed  
68 Ricardo Aldape Guerra TX L 1982 1997 15 Charges Dismissed  
69 Benjamin Harris WA B 1985 1997 12 Charges Dismissed  
70 Robert Hayes FL B 1991 1997 6 Acquitted  
71 Christopher McCrimmon AZ B 1993 1997 4 Acquitted  
72 Randal Padgett AL W 1992 1997 5 Acquitted  
73 Robert Lee Miller, Jr. OK B 1988 1998 10 Charges Dismissed Yes
74 Curtis Kyles LA B 1984 1998 14 Charges Dismissed  
75 Shareef Cousin LA B 1996 1999 3 Charges Dismissed  
76 Anthony Porter IL B 1983 1999 16 Charges Dismissed  
77 Steven Smith IL B 1985 1999 14 Acquitted  
78 Ronald Williamson OK W 1988 1999 11 Charges Dismissed Yes
79 Ronald Jones IL B 1989 1999 10 Charges Dismissed Yes
80 Clarence Dexter, Jr. MO W 1991 1999 8 Charges Dismissed  
81 Warren Douglas Manning SC B 1989 1999 10 Acquitted  
82 Alfred Rivera NC L 1997 1999 2 Charges Dismissed  
83 Steve Manning IL W 1993 2000 7 Charges Dismissed  
84 Eric Clemmons MO B 1987 2000 13 Acquitted  
85 Joseph Nahume Green FL B 1993 2000 7 Charges Dismissed  
86 Earl Washington VA B 1984 2000 16 Pardoned Yes
87 William Nieves PA L 1994 2000 6 Acquitted  
88 Frank Lee Smith - died prior to exoneration FL B 1986 2000 ** 14 Charges Dismissed Yes
89 Michael Graham LA W 1987 2000 13 Charges Dismissed  
90 Albert Burrell LA W 1987 2000 13 Charges Dismissed  
91 Oscar Lee Morris CA B 1983 2000 17 Charges Dismissed  
92 Peter Limone MA W 1968 2001 33 Charges Dismissed  
93 Gary Drinkard AL W 1995 2001 6 Charges Dismissed  
94 Joaquin Jose Martinez FL L 1997 2001 4 Acquitted  
95 Jeremy Sheets NE W 1997 2001 4 Charges Dismissed  
96 Charles Fain ID W 1983 2001 18 Charges Dismissed Yes
97 Juan Roberto Melendez FL L 1984 2002 18 Charges Dismissed  
98 Ray Krone AZ W 1992 2002 10 Charges Dismissed Yes
99 Thomas Kimbell, Jr. PA W 1998 2002 4 Acquitted  
100 Larry Osborne KY W 1999 2002 3 Charges Dismissed  
101 Aaron Patterson IL B 1986 2003 17 Pardoned  
102 Madison Hobley IL B 1987 2003 16 Pardoned  
103 Leroy Orange IL B 1984 2003 19 Pardoned  
104 Stanley Howard IL B 1987 2003 16 Pardoned  
105 Rudolph Holton FL B 1986 2003 16 Charges Dismissed  
106 Lemuel Prion AZ W 1999 2003 4 Charges Dismissed  
107 Wesley Quick AL W 1997 2003 6 Acquitted  
108 John Thompson LA B 1985 2003 18 Acquitted  
109 Timothy Howard OH B 1976 2003 26 Charges Dismissed  
110 Gary Lamar James OH B 1976 2003 26 Charges Dismissed  
111 Joseph Amrine MO B 1986 2003 17 Charges Dismissed  
112 Nicholas Yarris PA W 1982 2003 21 Charges Dismissed Yes
113 Alan Gell NC W 1998 2004 6 Acquitted  
114 Gordon Steidl IL W 1987 2004 17 Charges Dismissed  
115 Laurence Adams MA B 1974 2004 30 Charges Dismissed  
116 Dan L. Bright LA B 1996 2004 8 Charges Dismissed  
117 Ryan Matthews LA B 1999 2004 5 Charges Dismissed Yes
118 Ernest Ray Willis TX W 1987 2004 17 Charges Dismissed  
119 Derrick Jamison OH B 1985 2005 20 Charges Dismissed  
120 Harold Wilson PA B 1989 2005 16 Acquitted  
121 John Ballard FL W 2003 2006 3 Acquitted  
122 Curtis McCarty OK W 1986 2007 21 Charges Dismissed Yes
123 Michael McCormick TN W 1987 2007 20 Acquitted  
124 Jonathon Hoffman NC B 1995 2007 12 Charges Dismissed  
125 Kennedy Brewer MS B 1995 2008 13 Charges Dismissed Yes
126 Glen Chapman NC B 1994 2008 14 Charges Dismissed  
127 Levon Jones NC B 1993 2008 15 Charges Dismissed  
128 Michael Blair TX O 1994 2008 14 Charges Dismissed Yes
129 Nathson Fields IL B 1986 2009 23 Acquitted  
130 Paul House TN W 1986 2009 23 Charges Dismissed  
131 Daniel Wade Moore AL W 2002 2009 7 Acquitted  
132 Ronald Kitchen IL B 1988 2009 21 Charges Dismissed  
133 Herman Lindsey FL B 2006 2009 3 Acquitted  
134 Michael Toney TX W 1999 2009 10 Charges Dismissed  
135 Yancy Douglas OK B 1995 2009 14 Charges Dismissed  
136 Paris Powell OK B 1997 2009 12 Charges Dismissed  
137 Robert Springsteen TX W 2001 2009 8 Charges Dismissed  
138 Anthony Graves TX B 1994 2010 16 Charges Dismissed  
139 Gussie Vann TN W 1994 2011 17 Charges Dismissed  
140 Joe D'Ambrosio OH W 1989 2012 23 Charges Dismissed  
141 Damon Thibodeaux LA W 1997 2012 15 Charges Dismissed Yes
142 Seth Penalver FL W 1999 2012 13 Acquitted  
143 Reginald Griffin MO B 1983 2013 30 Charges Dismissed  
144 Glenn Ford LA B 1984 2014 30 Charges Dismissed  
145 Carl Dausch FL W 2011 2014 3 Acquitted  
146 Henry McCollum NC B 1984 2014 30 Charges Dismissed Yes
147 Leon Brown NC B 1984 2014 30 Charges Dismissed Yes
148 Ricky Jackson OH B 1975 2014 39 Charges Dismissed  

Note: James Bo Cochran (AL) and Timothy Hennis (NC) were originally on this list but are excluded following further research and developments.

Average number of years between being sentenced to death and exoneration: 10.8 years

Number of cases in which DNA played a substantial factor in establishing innocence: 20

*The list is ordered by the year of the inmate's release. Occaionally new cases of earlier releases are discovered. Thus, the number assigned to a person above may differ from his or her number in various published DPIC reports.

**DPIC refers to the Innocence Project's (Cardozo Law School, NY) criteria for whether a post-conviction exoneration was the result of DNA testing.

The Innocence Project requires that both:

a) DNA testing played a role in the defendant's reversal, AND
b) the results of the testing were central to the inmate's defense and to the identity of the perpetrator.
 
Sources: DPIC uses a number of resources when adding cases to the above list, including court opinions, media coverage, and conversations with those directly involved in the cases. The earlier cases in the list are based heavily on the research of Hugo Adam Bedau and Michael L. Radelet. (See, e.g., Hugo Bedau and Michael Radelet, "Miscarriages of justice in potentially capital cases," 40 Stanford Law Review 21 (1987); M.Radelet, H. Bedau, and C. Putnam, In Spite of Innocence, Northeastern University Press (1992); see also M. Radelet et al., "Prisoners released from death rows since 1970 because of doubts about their guilt," 13 Thomas M. Cooley Law Review 907 (1996)).

 

Use of the term "exonerated": Columnist Dan Rodricks of the Baltimore Sun asked DPIC about its list of exonerated individuals.  DPIC's Executive Director Richard Dieter responded, and that response was reprinted in Mr. Rodricks' column, July 5, 2009:

With respect to your question about our list of exonerated individuals, we use very strict and objective criteria for inclusion of cases on this list. Basically, the list is determined by the decisions of courts and prosecutor offices, not by our subjective judgment. As we state in a number of places on our Web site and in our reports, the criteria for inclusion on the list is:

Defendants must have been convicted, sentenced to death and subsequently either- a) their conviction was overturned AND

i) they were acquitted at re-trial or

ii) all charges were dropped

b) they were given an absolute pardon by the governor based on new evidence of innocence.

The list includes cases where the release occurred in 1973 or later, which was the time that states resumed sentencing people to death after the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down the death penalty. The list originated from a request from Congress asking us to identify the risks that innocent people might be executed. The original list that we prepared was published as a Staff Report of the House Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights. The list has been favorably referred to by Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts, as well as by many public officials around the country.

We believe the term "exonerated" is entirely appropriate to refer to the individuals on this list, which now numbers 133 individuals. Exonerate means to clear, as of an accusation, and seems to come from the Latin "ex" and "onus" meaning to unburden. That is precisely what has occurred in these cases. The defendants were convicted, given a burden of guilt, and then that burden was lifted when they were acquitted at a re-trial or the prosecution dropped all charges after the conviction was reversed. These are not individuals who received a lesser sentence or who remained guilty of a lesser charge related to the same set of circumstances. All guilt was lifted by the same system that had imposed it in the first place. Our justice system is the only objective source for making such a determination.

This notion of innocence, that an individual is innocent unless proven guilty, is a bedrock principle of our constitution and our societal protection against abusive state power. One does not lose the status of innocence merely because a prosecutor or other individuals retain a suspicion of guilt. Of course, it is true that this list makes no god-like determination of knowing exactly what happened in the original crime. Such perfect knowledge of past events is impossible, either to absolutely prove that a person did or did not do an act. We do not try to make a subjective judgment of what we think happened in the crime. We are merely reporting that in a great many cases the justice system convicted an individual and sentenced them to death, but when the process that arrived at that conclusion was reviewed, the conviction and sentence were thrown out. The individual, who often came close to execution, could not even be convicted of a traffic violation. Surely, that should be a cause of concern in applying the death penalty.

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