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"Oops! My Bad," says Courts

Posted on December 17, 2009 at 4:32 PM

By now we've all heard a story (or two...or a dozen) of those who are being cleared by DNA evidence in cases over a decade since determined and closed, cases where innocent people have been stuck in prison and forgotten except by their loved ones.


13 years a Canadian man spent in prison before he was acquitted of murder back in October 2009.  He'd been serving a life sentence for a sexual assault he never committed of a teenager.  In this case, a hair was found on the victim's body and an expert testified that it was this man's.  Kyle Unger is now a free man finally. [1]


In Ohio, a couple was finally acquitted of molesting children in 1994 and after serving 14 years in prison had their charges dropped.   Nancy Smith "was sentenced to 30 to 90 years in prison for gross sexual imposition, rape and attempted rape. Allen was sentenced to life for rape, felonious sexual penetration and gross sexual imposition."  The prosecutor is considering appealing. [2].


The reason I was thinking about this issue is because a man was released from prison in Florida today after serving 35 years for a crime he never committed.  James Bain was convicted of rape at 19 years old.  His entire youth was stolen from him because of this injustice.  This man never used a cell phone before today if that puts things into perspective!  "(Bain) said there are others in prison wrongly convicted and offered support for them. He said all those years of filing his own motions all of which were denied, paid off when the Innocence Project stepped in."  [3]


I can't stress how important these Innocence Projects are, but thus far my contact with the Ohio director has yielded little help.  There is no DNA exonerating evidence to be had in this case.  There is no smoking gun or witness that turns this into an open and closed case of mistaken identity.  This is a fight to the finish and the prosecution will be out for blood.  We have to raise buckets of money we don't have and never did have to hire experts to testify about mechanics and injuries and bore a jury to tears and in the end they may just come back with a guilty charge anyway.  After all, there's a baby who is dead and someone had to have done it, they'll think.  If our experts don't convince all the members of a jury that they're right and the prosecution's doctors are wrong, if our experts can't explain every injury in a believable manner (truth after all is stranger than fiction) then the jury might come back with a guilty verdict.  I realize this. 


Additionally, the Ohio Innocence Project receives anywhere from 800 to 1,100 requests for help yearly [4].  They're usually going to pick the easier cases to win I would imagine.  Ours doesn't fit that bill -yet.


However, in a rare move the Ohio Innocence Project has decided to back a death row case in Ohio.  Kevin Keith has maintained his innocence in the 1994 shootings that killed 3 people and wounded three others.  "Keith's public defenders say there is another suspect and that a police detective lied about a witness' statement."  It appears that the problem with the open discovery (or lack thereof) in criminal cases lead to being able to suppress the fact that there was another suspect, something not mentioned at Keith's trial. [5]


The idea I'm trying to generate with this blog today is that there are ever so many innocent people in prison.  Some of them even took pleas when they knew they were innocent (see case outlined in blog:  It is important to realize that the justice system is definitely not perfect as with my blogs I hope to demonstrate.  It is seriously flawed, allowing innocent people to be condemned and guilty to be set free on technicalities or short sentences.  Cops and prosecutors can do shady things when they believe they've got a guilty person.  See the case where a man's daughter was killed and the wrong person was accused and sent to prison.  This might have been in part because of evidence that was never tested.  Someone killed that beautiful little girl in this case, but instead of investigating and properly ensuring they had the right suspect, the sheriff and prosecutor appear to have taken the easy way out (not unusual, as I said, when they believe they have the right person, it becomes a self-righteous effort to ensure that the guilty gets punished). [6]









[1] Associated Press. (2009).  After 13 Years in Prison, Man Cleared of Murder. The Chronicle Telegram [Saturday, October 24, 2009] A6.


Caniglia, J. (2009). Nancy Smith, Joseph Allen acquitted by Lorain County judge in Head Start sex abuse case after serving 14 years in prison. The Cleveland Plain Dealer [Wednesday, June 24, 2009]. Retrieved December 17, 2009, from


[3] Morelli, K.  (2009).  Wrongly Convicted for 35 , Bain Gets Release from Prison. The Tampa Tribune [2009, December 17).  Retrieved December 17, 2009, from


[4] Associated Press.  (2009).  Police go to Ohio Innocence Project for Help.    The Mansfield News Journal [Monday, December 7, 2009].  Retrieved December 17, 2009 from


[5]  Welsh-Huggins, A.  (2009).  Condemned Ohio Killer of Three Says He's Innocent.  Dayton Daily News [Tuesday, June 30, 2009].  Retrieved December 17, 2009, from


[6] Renner, J.  (2009).  The Coldest Cases: BOOYAH!!!!! Ohio Innocence Project Sends Wayne County “Preservation” Letter in Tina Harmon Cold Case [November 12, 2009].  Retrieved December 17, 2009, from




Categories: Problems in Justice System