PBCBA BAR BULLETINS pbcba_bulletin_january 2019 - Page 18

INNOCENCE P r o j e c t 18 People – 350 Years - It is Time to Stand Up NELLIE L. KING “Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. It is that time of year again. The time when I ask for your financial support for the Innocence Project of Florida. The time when I convey to you the importance of IPF’s work which serves as the stopgap when we get it wrong. The time to be reminded that IPF is woefully underfunded. The time to acknowledge the human capital at stake when even one wrongfully convicted person languishes in prison, or, worse yet, is executed. I ask you to join me in supporting this effort which represents hope to the unlawfully incarcerated. Please consider a firm or individual sponsorship to the Third Annual Stand Up for Innocence Comedy Event to be held February 8, 2019, at 7:00 p.m. at the Kelsey Theater in Lake Park. Partner sponsor: $2,500 • Ten tickets to the reception and comedy show with preferred seating • Recognition in event promotional materials and IPF newsletter, at the event, on the IPF website for one year, and in promotional materials • $2,500 dollars could pay for expert reexamination of evidence and in-court expert appearance stories. The accounts of exonerations of the wrongfully convicted cannot be ignored. Every few months there is a media release featuring an exoneree’s smiling face turned towards his family as his lawyers accompany him on that long-awaited walk out of prison. Many of these exonerees spent decades in prison for crimes they did not commit. I have met some of these men and women. What strikes me is how they seemingly have no anger or resentment after their release. They kiss their mother, if their mother was still alive to witness their freedom date, send prayers of thanks towards the sky, and marvel at the things we take for granted, things like fresh fruit and the quiet that should define nighttime. Rebuilding a lifetime lost is difficult. Cell phones and online job sites stir their curiosity and overwhelm them. They have lost loved ones, meet children or grandchildren for the first time, and must live with the knowledge that, although deemed actually innocent by the courts, there is always someone judging them because of the past they didn’t create. Exonerees wake up from a nightmare, only to be confronted with a reality they are often ill-equipped to handle. Derrick as the perpetrator. Despite this evidence, it was not until 2011 that the state dropped its charges and Derrick was exonerated after serving 18 years for a crime he did not commit. William Dillon: William Dillion was wrongfully conviction of a 1981 murder in Brevard County. Using DNA taken from the perpetrator’s yellow t-shirt at the time of the crime, the Innocence Project of Florida was able to exclude Dillon as the killer. In 2008, Bill was freed after serving 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Anthony Caravella: In 1983, Anthony Caravella was wrongfully convicted of rape and murder in Broward County. After multiple coercive interrogations by the police, Anthony made a false confession to the crime. It was not until 2010 that he was exonerated through DNA testing that proved his innocence. Anthony spent 26 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. And there are more: Jerry Frank Townsend, mentally retarded with the mental capacity of an 8-year old, was exonerated for six murders and rape in Broward County after DNA testing positively identified a different perpetrator was responsible – but not before Townsend spent 22 years in prison. And some never make it out, like Frank Lee Smith, who died in prison after serving 14 years unlawfully. Smith was exonerated of rape and murder in Broward County after exculpatory DNA testing identified the true perpetrator 11 months after his death. James Bain: In 1974, James Bain was wrongfully convicted of rape in Polk County. Despite maintaining his innocence, it was not until 2009 that the Innocence Project of Friend sponsor: $1,000 • Four tickets to the reception and comedy Florida was able to test DNA on the victim’s underwear that excluded James as the show with preferred seating assailant. At the time of his release, James was the longest serving exoneree in the • Recognition in event promotional country: 35 years in prison for a crime he materials and IPF newsletter, at the event, didn’t commit. James went in when he was How can this happen? Eyewitness on the IPF website for one year, and in just 19 and he was released at the age of 54. misidentification testimony was a factor promotional materials in over 75% of post-conviction DNA Derrick Williams: Derrick Williams was exoneration cases, making it the leading • $1,000 could pay for DNA testing of one wrongfully convicted of rape in Manatee cause of wrongful convictions in the U.S. County in 1993. Law enforcement collected Improper or “junk” forensic science played sample of evidence for a client various pieces of physical evidence from a role in 50% of wrongful convictions, false Since my message to you last year, the the victim, including the assailant’s t-shirt. confessions led to wrongful convictions in number of IPF exonerees has risen to 18 However, none of these items were used at approximately 25% of cases, and the role citizens who collectively served more than trial despite the availability of DNA testing of snitches contributed to 19% of wrongful 350 years for crimes they did not commit. at the time. In 2009, the Innocence Project convictions. (story continues on pg 24 There is a face, a family, a story behind of Florida tested the long-forgotten DNA each one of the Innocence Project success on the t-shirt which effectively excluded PBCBA BAR BULLETIN 18