Two brothers from Baltimore were released on Friday after spending 24 years in prison for a wrongful murder conviction.
What We Know:
- Kenneth “JR” McPherson and Eric Simmons were convicted in May 1995 and sentenced to life in prison for murder conspiracy. Police accused the brothers of murdering Anthony Wooden in 1994.
- During the initial trial, their convictions rested upon testimony from two witnesses. One witness testified to seeing the shooting take place from a third-floor window about 150 feet away and the second was a 13-year-old boy who was threatened with homicide charges. The boy identified them as the killers then recanted his statement during the trial, according to The Baltimore Sun.
- McPherson and Simmons wrote to the state’s attorney office two years ago and Lauren Lipscomb, chief of the conviction integrity unit of the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office, decided the case should be investigated again. Investigators found evidence to confirm the alibis of the brothers and a witness who said the brothers had no role in the shooting.
- The innocence projects at George Washington University and the University of Baltimore helped prosecutors with this case and a few others in the past. A similar incident happened in December with 47-year-old, Clarence Shipley Jr., who was released from prison after spending 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Jerome Johnson was also wrongfully convicted of murder and spent 30 years in prison.
- Typically DNA evidence is used to exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals. There are 365 DNA exonerees to date and of those, 225 are African American, according to the Innocence Project. Faulty eyewitness testimony plays a significant role in wrongful convictions. As of 2016, unintentional misidentifications amount to 30% of exonerations. In 26% of exonerations, witnesses purposefully misidentified exonerees.
For more information on wrongful convictions in the United States, check out The National Registry of Exonerations.