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Connecticut legislature awards $5 million to exoneree
Posted: May 21, 2007
James Tillman served 18 years in Connecticut prisons before DNA testing proved his innocence. Last week, the state legislature approved a bill awarding him $5 million in compensation for the injustice he suffered. The bill now goes to Governor Jodi Rell, who has said she will sign it.
An editorial in today’s Hartford Courant calls on lawmakers to create a formula to compensate future exonerees in a similar way.
They should set a policy for fair compensation based on the Tillman precedent. His award was calculated roughly on what other states have done in similar situations. He was compensated for loss of liberty and enjoyment of life, loss of income, loss of future earnings because he will be starting from scratch, for physical and psychological injury and loss of familial relationships. In exchange, he agreed not to press claims against the state.And Slate.com examined compensation policies nationwide on Friday.
Let's put that formula in writing. There's only one James Calvin Tillman. But all who are wronged in this egregious manner deserve fair and equal treatment.
Read the full editorial. (Hartford Courant, 5/21/07)
Read more about Tillman’s case and about compensation policies nationwide.
Tags: Connecticut, James Tillman, Exoneree Compensation
Innocence Project television special premieres at event tonight in Connecticut
Posted: June 7, 2007 11:51 am
Join Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck and two men exonerated by DNA testing at a special free event tonight in Greenwich, Connecticut. The program features the world premiere of a new television special, "Proof of Innocence." The special covers the case of Clark McMillan, who served 22 years in Tennessee prisons for a rape he didn't commit. The special is scheduled to air on the Discovery Channel June 12th.
Mr. McMillan will join Mr. Scheck at the event tonight, along with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, New Jersey exoneree David Shephard, and Innocence Project Staff Attorney Vanessa Potkin, the attorney on Mr. McMillian’s case.
Tonight's event begins at 6:45 p.m. and is free and open to the public. To RSVP, call 212-364-5976
Tags: Connecticut, Clark McMillan, David Shephard
DNA leads to suspect in Connecticut exoneration case
Posted: February 1, 2008 10:22 am
Police announced yesterday that DNA has identified a suspect in the 1988 rape for which James Tillman spent more than 16 years in prison. Hartford Police and the State’s Attorney’s Cold Case Unit announced that a DNA profile from evidence at the crime scene has matched Duane Foster, who is currently serving time in a Virginia prison for unrelated crimes.
Foster previously lived in Hartford, where the 1988 crime happened, and Tillman’s attorney said the two served time in the same prison at one point. Officials have a warrant for Foster’s arrest on a first-degree kidnapping charge in the 1988 case, as the statute of limitations on sexual assault has expired. It was unclear Thursday if and when he would be extradited to Connecticut.
Read the full story here. (Hartford Courant, 02/01/08)
Tillman was released from prison on July 11, 2006 after serving more than 16 years for the 1988 rape. DNA testing proved that he did not commit the crime. Read more about his case here.
In 81 of the 212 DNA exonerations nationwide, DNA didn’t just exonerate people who were wrongfully convicted – it helped identify the true perpetrators who evaded justice for years or decades. The policy reforms the Innocence Project pursues nationwide are proven to protect the innocent and help apprehend the guilty. Learn more about these reforms here.
Tags: Connecticut, James Tillman
Connecticut Considers Criminal Justice Reform Legislation
Posted: March 10, 2008 4:44 pm
In an op-ed piece in today’s Hartford Courant, Innocence Project Policy Director Stephen Saloom argues that the Connecticut Legislature should pass a bill that would help prevent eyewitness misidentification. Connecticut’s governor recently proposed expanding the state’s DNA database, saying it would help protect the innocent and identify the guilty. The Innocence Project believes that reforms proven to prevent wrongful convictions should be a top priority. Eyewitness misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions overturned through DNA testing – and was the cause of James Tillman’s wrongful conviction. Tillman served over 16 years in Connecticut prisons before his release in 2006.
If better eyewitness identification procedures had been in place two decades ago, James Tillman might not have been wrongfully convicted. At his trial in 1989, the primary evidence was the victim's identification of Tillman as her attacker. Even though the attack happened in a parking garage at night when the victim was impaired and under extreme duress, she identified him in a photo array.Read more about Tillman’s case here.
Read the full op-ed here. (Hartford Courant, 03/10/08)
Tags: Connecticut, Eyewitness Misidentification
Bills to prevent wrongful convictions face last chance in Connecticut
Posted: March 24, 2008 11:05 am
Connecticut lawmakers must act today to advance two proposed reforms that would prevent wrongful convictions by changing police procedures, officials said. The state’s Judiciary Committee has until 5 p.m. to vote on bills to mandate the recording of police interrogations and to reform that way eyewitness identification procedures are held. Innocence Project Policy Director Stephen Saloom was in Connecticut last week testifying on behalf of the eyewitness reform.
Read more here. (Stamford Advocate, 03/24/08)
Read more about reforms on the ground in your state.
Tags: Connecticut, False Confessions
DNA Tests Could Exonerate Connecticut Man
Posted: December 8, 2008 1:53 pm
Prosecutors in Connecticut arrested a 51-year-old man on Friday in connection with the 1988 murder of a 17-year-old girl after DNA testing of evidence from the crime scene pointed to his involvement. And another man, who has always said he was wrongfully convicted of the same murder, is seeking his released from prison based on the same DNA tests.
Miguel Roman has been behind bars since 1988 for allegedly killing 17-year-old Carmen Lopez. Authorities reopened the case after the Connecticut Innocence Project, which represents Roman, asked them to conduct DNA testing on evidence from the crime scene. The test results excluded Roman and pointed to another man, Pedro Miranda, who authorities plan to charge with Lopez’s murder and two other unsolved murders from 1986 and 1987.
Read the full story here. (Hartford Courtant, 12/08/2008)
We will post updates on this case here on the Innocence Blog as we receive them.
Two Connecticut Men Seek New Trial Based on DNA and Other Evidence
Posted: January 7, 2009
Ronald Taylor and George Gould are currently serving 80 years for the 1993 murder of a local shop owner. Both men have always maintained that they did not commit the crime, and new DNA evidence secured by an unlikely source may help them get a new trial.
Taylor and Gould were both found guilty of murdering Eugenio Vega DeLeon 15 years ago. They were convicted largely based on eyewitness testimony and other circumstantial evidence. The men are currently waiting for a judge to decide whether they should get a new trial.
A private investigator hired by the public defender's office says that DNA found on an electrical cord used to tie the victim's hands together matches neither Taylor nor Gould. Despite the fact that this testing was done in 2006, New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington's office has yet to run the DNA profile from the cord in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) databank – which could identify who actually committed the murder. In nearly 40% of DNA exoneration cases nationwide, the actual perpetrator was later identified, often through DNA database searches.
The man who helped secure the DNA testing on the cord, Gerald O'Donnell, is a former Cheshire police officer who previously did work for Dearington's office. Over the course of three years, O'Donnell has compiled a thorough report that supports Taylor's and Gould's case; among his findings:
Gould and Taylor served time on the same cellblock as Miguel Roman, who was released from prison a couple of weeks ago when DNA testing supported his claim of innocence.
- fingerprints found on the door handle of a safe in the victim’s store (where he was killed) are not Gould’s or Taylor’s, and police are now either unable or unwilling to locate the fingerprints for new analysis,
- the state's main witness now admits in a taped interview that she lied at trial because police were threatening to send her to jail, and
- another witness recanted her testimony, now saying that she was pressured by police to say she saw two black men in the victim's store.
Read the full story here. (Hartford Courant, 1/4/09)
Read more about Miguel Roman’s case.
Read more about James Tillman, who was exonerated through DNA testing in Connecticut in 2006.
Tags: Connecticut, James Tillman, Eyewitness Misidentification, DNA Databases, Fingerprints
Miguel Roman Exonerated in Connecticut
Posted: April 2, 2009 5:20 pm
After serving more than two decades in Connecticut prison for a murder he didn’t commit, Miguel Roman was freed in December due to DNA evidence of his innocence. Today, his name was fully cleared as a Connecticut judge dropped all charges pending against him. He becomes the 235th person exonerated in the United States and the second in Connecticut.
Miguel Roman's family and friends cheered Thursday as Judge David Gold dismissed the charges. Roman had been sentenced to 60 years in prison for the 1988 murder of his girlfriend, 17-year-old Carmen Lopez, but recent DNA tests showed could not have been the killer.Roman was represented by the Connecticut Innocence Project, a member of the Innocence Network.
"I'm glad to have everything finished," Roman said after the hearing. "I've got my freedom, and that's it."
Read the full story here. (Associated Press, 04/02/2009)
Tags: Connecticut, Miguel Roman
Race and Wrongful Conviction in Connecticut
Posted: April 9, 2009 2:45 pm
When Miguel Roman was arrested in 1988 for the murder of a 17-year-old Connecticut woman, he was interrogated mostly in English – a language he didn’t speak. His trial proceeded in English, and despite Roman’s continuous claims of innocence, he was convicted. He would serve two decades in prison before DNA proved his innocence and implicated another man in the crime.
A column by Helen Urbiñas in today’s Hartford Courant argues that a language and cultural barrier may have contributed to Roman’s wrongful conviction. She goes on to say that society’s lukewarm welcome for Roman’s exoneration may also be colored by his limited command of the language.
When I spoke some months ago to a juror who had served on Roman's case, he recalled Roman's demeanor, how disconnected he seemed from it all, how difficult it was to read him. I asked the juror then if he thought that Roman's inability to speak English well had anything to do with it. Maybe, he said.This argument has been raised before – even in Roman’s case. In 1992, the Connecticut Supreme Court denied an appeal from Roman argued that his conviction had been unconstitutional. One justice – Robert Berdon – dissented. He wrote:
It's a question that underscores the importance of what the Innocence Project is trying to do — using DNA, science, to offset some of the biases that creep into our courts. Of the 235 convicts exonerated through DNA testing in the U.S, nearly three-quarters were people of color.
When the defendant’s primary language is Spanish, and the police officers insist on conducting the interrogations in English, the entire process smacks of unfairness that will results in the perception by the Hispanic community that the criminal justice system is titled against them….In order for the public to have confidence in our criminal justice system, it is important not only that we do justice but also that all racial and ethnic segments of our population perceive that justice is done.In his dissent, Berdon went on to quote another of his recent dissents in 1992, in the case of James Calvin Tillman:
In our system of justice, not only must the accused be afforded a fair trial, but equally important there must be a perception of fairness by the community and the accused. Anything less not only undermines the credibility of this branch of government but also threatens the very fabric of our democracy.As many readers of this blog know, Tillman was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2006. Although signs of unfairness were evident in the cases of both Tillman and Roman in 1992, it would be more than 14 years before either attained justice.
Tags: Connecticut, Miguel Roman, James Tillman
After 21 Years, Charges Dropped in Connecticut Case
Posted: August 19, 2009 3:01 pm
Kenneth Ireland served 21 years in Connecticut prisons before new DNA tests on crime scene evidence led to his release two weeks ago. Today, a state judge dropped all pending charges against Ireland at the request of prosecutors. Ireland is fully cleared and said he plans to have a celebratory meal tonight.
"I'm pleased this chapter in my life is behind me now," said Ireland, a tall, thin 39-year-old man with a goatee. "I feel amazing. It's been a long time coming. Just got to breathe now."
… "The very system that convicted him wrongly is the system he relied upon," said attorney Karen Goodrow, the director (of the Connecticut Innocence Project, which represented Ireland). "I think the amazing story is (Ireland) never gave up hope."
Read the full story here. (Danbury News-Times, 08/19/09)
Editorial Calls for More Action from Connecticut Innocence Panel
Posted: October 5, 2009 5:42 pm
An editorial in today’s Connecticut Law Tribune calls on the Connecticut Advisory Commission on Wrongful Convictions to end a lull in activity and make recommendations to the state legislature on reforms that can prevent wrongful convictions. The panel is one of eight such commissions around the country, but the Connecticut group -- expected to meet quarterly -- has met only once since November 2006.
Three men have been cleared through DNA testing in Connecticut since 2006: Miguel Roman, James Tillman and Kenneth Ireland. From today’s editorial:
To date, the Advisory Commission on Wrongful Convictions has yet to conduct an in-depth review of any of these cases. Nor has it examined any of the major causes of wrongful conviction or made any recommendations for the reform of practices and procedures necessary to insure that similar miscarriages of justice do not occur. In fact, since its inception in 2003, the commission has not issued a single report.Learn about the other innocence commissions in the U.S. on our interactive map.
Read the full editorial here. (Connecticut Law Tribune, 10/05/09)
Tags: Connecticut, Innocence Commissions
CT Supreme Court Excludes Key Eyewitness Testimony
Posted: November 11, 2010 5:25 pm
The judge allowed testimony about the risk of misidentification resulting from the way an identification procedure is conducted. But the expert was not allowed to testify that a misidentification can occur if the perpetrator was disguised or had a weapon. Nor was she allowed to testify that there is no correlation between the confidence with which an identification is made and its reliability, that stress associated with seeing a crime can affect the reliability of the identification and that collaboration between witnesses may lessen the reliability of the identification.
The court was unanimous in affirming Outing's guilt but was divided 4-3 about whether or not to consider Kemp. Since the expert testimony came during a pretrial hearing, the majority didn't think Kemp factored in to Outing's case.
But Justice Richard N. Palmer disagreed, saying that the argument in Kemp had been discredited by several eyewitness misidentification studies conducted since the ruling. Palmer also said that for the majority to ignore the issue was "indefensible" since eyewitness testimony is "notoriously unreliable." Cameron continues:
Reversing Kemp won't eliminate the risk of wrongful convictions based on mistaken eyewitness identifications. Much more is needed - either legislation mandating improvements in current eyewitness identification procedures or, failing that, administrative issuance of best practice guidelines. But reversing that thoroughly discredited precedent would be an important step in the right direction.
Read the full article.
Read about eyewitness misidentification and how it can be prevented.
Tags: Connecticut, Eyewitness Misidentification
Connecticut Considering Death Penalty Repeal
Posted: March 8, 2011 4:53 pm
"Reasonable people can certainly differ as to whether or not capital punishment is a morally appropriate sanction for the most heinous of crimes,'' Scheck told the committee.
But the public policy decision to have a death penalty has broad repercussions, Scheck said. It is a costly endeavor to sentence a person to death, given the lengthy appeals process.
"Let's have an honest debate about this,'' he said. "You spend more money on the death penalty, you take away money from public safety. … We could solve more rape cases, we could solve more robberies … if we had more money to put into that instead of the death penalty.''
Scheck also cautioned lawmakers about believing that the criminal justice system is infallible. Not so long ago, most experts believed that fingerprints were the gold standard of proof, but forensic experts now believe that fingerprints can sometimes lead investigators down a flawed trail, he said.
There have been seventeen people proven innocent and exonerated by DNA testing in the United States after serving time on death row. They were convicted in 11 states and served a combined 209 years in prison – including 187 years on death row – for crimes they didn’t commit.
The committee will vote on the repeal in coming weeks.
Read the full article.
Read about the Innocence Project’s position on the death penalty and learn about those who were sentenced to die and later exonerated through DNA testing.
Reforms Pending In Connecticut
Posted: June 15, 2011 5:16 pm
In addition to mandatory recording of interrogations, the Connecticut legislature also passed a bill aiming to reduce wrongful convictions by creating an Eyewitness Identification Task Force to study issues surrounding eyewitness misidentification.
Read the full article.
Read the full text of the proposed bills: Interrogations / Identification
Read more about false confessions and the benefit of recording interrogations.
Tags: Connecticut, False Confessions, Eyewitness Identification
Connecticut Establishes Fund to Aid the Recently Exonerated
Posted: January 23, 2012 2:00 pm
Friday Roundup: Claims of Innocence and Fighting for Justice
Posted: February 17, 2012 4:15 pm
Tags: Connecticut, Texas, Virginia
Friday Roundup: False Confessions, DNA Access, Compensation
Posted: February 24, 2012 5:15 pm
Tags: Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky
Life Sentence Guards Against Fatal Mistakes
Posted: April 2, 2012 2:45 pm
Connecticut to Abolish the Death Penalty
Posted: April 12, 2012 1:30 pm
Connecticut Governor Abolishes State's Death Penalty
Posted: April 30, 2012 6:00 pm
Tags: Connecticut, Death Penalty
Connecticut House Passes Eyewitness Identification Bill
Posted: May 4, 2012 11:00 am
Tags: Connecticut, Eyewitness Identification
Science Thursday - November 22, 2012
Posted: November 22, 2012 7:30 am
Tags: Connecticut, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, Science Thursday