Thursday, March 04, 2010

Meet the Exonerated: Alabama Death Row

Walter McMillian, is one man of the seven men exonerated from death row, in the state of Alabama. McMillian, a black man, with no record, was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a 18-year old Rhonda Morrison, a young white woman who worked as a clerk in a dry clearing store in Monroeville, Alabama in 1987.

Seven months after the Morrison murder, which had the police stumped, McMillian was arrested . At the time, the police had no motive, no fingerprints, no ballistics test, no physical evidence of any kind, linking McMillian to the crime...just the word of one person, Ralph Myers, a career criminal awaiting trial, facing a possible death sentence for murder. Using the death sentence as leverage to scare Meyrs, an agent of the ABI pressured McMillian to lie, promising him a reduced sentence of no more than 30-years.

Held on death row prior to being convicted and sentenced to death, McMillian's trial lasted only a day and a half. Three witnesses testified against McMillian, and the jury ignored multiple alibi witnesses, who testified that he was at a church fish fry at the time of the crime. The trial judge overrode the jury’s sentencing verdict for life and sentenced McMillian to death.

EJI's Bryan Stevenson took on the case in post conviction, where he showed that the State’s witnesses had lied on the stand and the prosecution had illegally suppressed exculpatory evidence. Mr. McMillian's conviction was overturned by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in 1993 and prosecutors agreed the case had been mishandled. Mr. McMillian was released in March 2003 after spending six years on death row for a crime he did not commit.

Prior to McMillian's exoneration, the case was profiled on "60 Minutes" (below) on Nov. 22, 1992. and is the subject of a 1996 Edgar Award-winning book by Pete Earley entitled "Circumstantial Evidence."

Part One:

Part Two:


Anonymous,  20:43  

Thanks for posting this. I feel so bad for that guy. That sheriff set him up and totally escapes any type of consequences.

Roth's stepchild 22:17  

That's what enrages me about this issue. Half the time, the people in positions of power are committing worse crimes than the people facing the electric chair. The injustice and hypocrisy involved is beyond comprehension.

Thanks for the comment!

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