Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just Another Exonaration? It Is Never That Simple

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A former truck driver who spent nearly 19 years behind bars for a 1988 slaying he didn't commit walked free Wednesday after DNA testing exonerated him and instead pointed to a man who strangled a 4-year-old girl in 1994.

"There's no question that in this case the police officers had tunnel vision, and they latched onto Frank three years after the fact, even though his confession didn't make sense, even though there was no other evidence to suggest he did it," said the group's co-director, Peter Neufeld.


Innocent person spends 19 years in prison. Very common headline, right? Well, read the rest of the story to better understand the additional damages that result from wrongful convictions.

The real murderer was serving time for a murder he committed after the crime that landed Frank Sterling in prison. That's right. The police latched onto Sterling, engaged in misconduct, and ended up ignoring the real perpetrator, who was then free to kill again, this time a four-year old girl.

Every wrongful conviction means the real perpetrator has escaped investigation and trial. In this case, the body count increased as the police, the prosecutors, and the judges ignored the evidence and violated Sterling's rights.  So it's never just another exoneration, especially in this case.

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