Wrongfully Imprisoned 29 Years, Stanley Wrice Wins Second Chance

After maintaining his innocence for 29 years, an Illinois man has earned the right to a hearing on his actual innocence claim. Stanley Wrice was convicted in 1982 after falsely confessing to Chicago Police for a brutal sexual assault. Wrice’s case is set to be heard before the Illinois Supreme Court. Read more about the case, Wrice’s false confession, and the Court’s ruling here.

Scientific Advances Cloud Past Arson Cases

A recent Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article published states that advances in arson investigation could now make past evidence outdated, and because of this, several convictions in Pennsylvania are now being challenged. Currently, questionable arson convictions are also under review in other states including Texas, Massachusetts, and here in Arizona. From the article:

Donald Brucker, Allegheny County chief deputy fire marshal, acknowledges that some conclusions he reached while investigating fires a decade ago probably couldn’t be substantiated today.

“Without a doubt, there’s a lot of things that have changed,” said Brucker, who’s investigated fires for 20 years, including the last 13 years for the county.

Read the full article here.

Justice: Prosecute Prosecutors?

In Virginia, Bennett Barbour served countless years on a sentence for a rape conviction that was based on eyewitness testimony, the least reliable of all the forms of evidence used in courts today. The police learned that, through testing of DNA material, Mr. Barbour was excluded as being the perpetrator in this crime. The results from the testing came back in 2010– Mr. Barbour was only notified a few weeks ago that his name was finally cleared. The problem: why did it take so long to let him know?

According to an article published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia’s Department of Forensic Science has “refused to release information in 76 cases where DNA seems to have cleared a convict’s name — including 13 cases in which the convict is now deceased.” The article also raises questions about punishing authorities and prosecutors–by “making them personally liable for the failure to inform innocent men in a timely manner of evidence exonerating them.”

Read more of the article here, and more about the DNA exoneration and about Virginia’s DFS reports here.