Man serving life sentence for murder set free due to misconduct
Imagine being accused of a crime you did not commit. Now image you are actually convicted of that crime and given a life sentence. This nightmarish scenario is exactly what happened to a man who was wrongly convicted of murder in 2001. Thankfully, justice has been served and the man was recently released as acts of gross misconduct were uncovered on the part of prosecutors and police investigators.
The murder charges stem from a 1996 crime in which an elderly man was shot and killed. The defendant in the case, who was the victim's neighbor, was charged with the crime in 2000. There was never any physical evidence tying the defendant to the crime. Instead, prosecutors relied on the testimony and polygraph tests of two other teenagers who were also arrested in connection with the murder.
Prosecutors, however, failed to disclose that both teens failed their polygraph tests which would have excluded them as credible witnesses. Prosecutors also failed to disclose that one of the teens who implicated the defendant did so in exchange for a lesser charge. This same teen later recanted his testimony.
Another key witness for the prosecution was a jail informant who provided testimony that the defendant had confessed to carrying out the murder. While prosecutors maintained this informant came forward of free will, it was uncovered that prosecutors recruited the informant and offered him an early release for compelling and incriminating information.
Upon the discovery of the deceptive acts by prosecutors and police investigators, the federal judge who overturned the conviction declared that the case pointed to a "miscarriage of justice" and chastised those involved for their "series of lies and failures to disclose exculpatory evidence".
This case proves that gross injustices can occur when police investigators and prosecutors are desperate to close a case. Persons in Oregon facing charges related to crimes they did not commit should seek the assistance of a criminal defense professional who can prevent these injustices from occurring.