INNOCENCE: Three Men Walk Free in One Day After Unrelated Murder Convictions Overturned
On October 4, three men were released from prisons in Chicago (Illinois), Austin (Texas), and Los Angeles (California), after serving a combined six decades in prison for unrelated murders when courts overturned their convictions. In Texas, Michael Morton, who was convicted of killing his wife in 1986 based on circumstancial evidence, was cleared by new DNA tests. Jacques Rivera from Illinois was convicted of a gang-related murder on the basis of false evidence. In California, Obie Anthony's murder conviction was overturned after it was established that the primary witness in his case had lied after making a deal with the prosecution. While these defendants were not facing execution for their murder convictions, their cases highlight flaws in the criminal justice system that have also led to wrongful convictions in death penalty cases. "I thank God this wasn't a capital case. I only had life," Mr. Morton said after his release. In Morton's case, prosecutors withheld a statement by his son saying that he was not the killer. Government misconduct, along with false eyewitness testimony, false or coerced confessions, and use of informants, are some of the leading causes of wrongful convictions, according to the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization that assisted in the release of the three defendants.
(R. Cornwell, "Three men walk free on a historic day for US justice," The Independent (UK), October 6, 2011). See Innocence.