On Thursday, three men who’ve been in prison for murder for more than half of their lives, had their convictions overturned based on new evidence which suggests their innocence.
In 1992, Mark Jason Jones, Kenneth Eric Gardiner and Dominic Brian Lucci were found guilty of shooting to death a man in Savannah, Georgia, and sentenced to life plus five years in prison. The shooting was said to have been racially motivated. Jones, Gardiner and Lucci were soldiers who were stationed at the Fort Stewart Army base at the time they were convicted.
According to Peter Camiel, an attorney who works with Centurion Ministries, which is representing Jones, Gardiner and Lucci, on the night of the crime, the three men were at a wedding rehearsal an hour away from the site of the crime. While the men did eventually go to Savannah that night for a bachelor party, says Camiel, they didn’t arrive until after the shooting had already happened.
The case went back to court after a 2010 Open Records Act request in which attorneys for the trio learned that police had withheld an important report that contained potentially exculpatory information. The report revealed that local law enforcement has responded to a similar crime—also racially motivated—just several hours after the murder for which Jones, Gardiner and Lucci were arrested and convicted. The report was never shared with the defense counsel. It also came to light that the witness who testified against Jones, Gardiner and Lucci was coerced and, in fact, had told police that he could not identify the shooters.
Based on this new evidence, The Georgia Supreme Court overturned the murder convictions for Jones, Gardiner and Lucci.
“We are thrilled,” Camiel said, according to www.law.com. “These three young soldiers—20 and 21—have been in prison for 25 years for something they had nothing to do with.”
Read more about the case here.