SEASON 2 EPISODE GUIDE

Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a podcast about tragedy, triumph, unequal justice and actual innocence. Based on the files of the lawyers who freed them, Wrongful Conviction features interviews with men and women who have spent decades in prison for crimes they did not commit. Some of them had even been sentenced to death. These are their stories.

AMANDA KNOX
CONVICTION: MURDER
SENTENCE: 26 YEARS
TIME SERVED: 4 YEARS

Amanda Knox was convicted of the murder of a 21-year-old British exchange student, Meredith Kercher, who died from knife wounds in the apartment she shared with Ms. Knox in Perugia, Italy in 2007. Ms. Knox and her then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were both found guilty of killing Kercher, receiving 26- and 25-year prison sentences, respectively. Their convictions were subsequently overturned in 2011, and she was released from prison after serving four years. In early 2014, the Italian Supreme Court ruled that they should both stand trial again, and she and Sollecito were re-convicted. Finally, in March 2015, the Italian Supreme Court overturned both murder convictions, ending their eight-year ordeal.

VALENTINE'S DAY EDITION: SEDRICK & TINA COURTNEY
CONVICTION: ARMED ROBBERY
SENTENCE: 30 YEARS
TIME SERVED: 15 YEARS

Sedrick Courtney was wrongfully convicted of robbery with a firearm and first-degree burglary in Tulsa, OK. On April 6, 1995, two armed men wearing ski masks broke into an apartment in Mr. Courtney’s building complex and brutally beat a female victim, blindfolded her, and forced her to lie on the floor as they ransacked her home. The victim suffered traumatic brain injury because of the attack, but she positively identified Mr. Courtney as one of the assailants, claiming she recognized his voice. The second assailant was never identified. Even though his sister and cousins corroborated his alibi, Mr. Courtney was sentenced to 30 years and served 15 years before the Innocence Project was able to conduct DNA testing on the hairs, proving that none of the hairs from the ski masks matched Mr. Courtney. He was exonerated on July 19, 2012. In this episode, Mr. Courtney appears with his wife, Tina, whom he met in prison when she was working as one of the guards.

TEN DAYS FROM HANGING: THE WRONGFUL CONVICTION OF PETER PRINGLE
CONVICTION: MURDER, ROBBERY
SENTENCE: DEATH
TIME SERVED: 15 YEARS

Peter Pringle was wrongfully convicted of an armed robbery and the murder of two police officers during a bank raid in Ireland in 1980. He was the last person sentenced to death in Ireland, and just days before a noose was to be tied around his neck, Mr. Pringle learned that Ireland’s president had commuted his sentence to 40 years without parole. Mr. Pringle then immersed himself in legal texts and effectively became a jailhouse lawyer. He discovered that the confession used by the prosecution was written down in a police officer’s notebook prior to his interrogation about the killings. Serving as his own counsel, he eventually convinced the Court of Criminal Appeal to quash his conviction in 1995. Today Mr. Pringle is a human rights and anti-death penalty activist and together he and his wife, Sunny Jacobs, also a death row exoneree, run the Sunny Center in Ireland where they provide counseling to other exonerees.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE & LIVE: EVERTON WAGSTAFFE
CONVICTION: KIDNAPPING
SENTENCE: 12.5 TO 25 YEARS
TIME SERVED: 21 YEARS

Everton Wagstaffe was wrongfully convicted of the rape, kidnapping and murder of 16-year-old Jennifer Negron in 1993. Mr. Wagstaffe’s conviction was based primarily on the testimony of Brunilda Capella, a 25-year-old, drug-addicted sex worker who claimed that she had seen Mr. Wagstaffe pull the victim into a Buick Skylark driven by Reginald Connor. It was later revealed, however, that the car had been parked at a church during the time that Capella claimed she had witnessed the kidnapping. The owner of the car testified that she had told the police this fact prior to Mr. Wagstaffe’s conviction, but the police didn’t write any reports of the interview. It was also revealed that Capella had been regularly providing information to the police at that time—remarkably, she testified for the prosecution in 20 cases. The Innocence Project consulted on the case and aided in testing foreign hairs found on the victim’s body for DNA, which revealed that the hairs had not come from Mr. Wagstaffe or Mr. Connor. The ruling to dismiss their charges, however, was primarily based on a revelation that prosecutors had buried evidence that Mr. Wagstaffe himself uncovered that police had targeted him before even speaking with the informant who provided critical testimony against the two men. In 2014, his conviction was ultimately vacated after serving 23 years in prison.

WC BEHIND BARS: JON-ADRIAN VELAZQUEZ SPEAKS OUT FROM INSIDE SING SING
CONVICTION: MURDER, ROBBERY
SENTENCE: 25 YEARS TO LIFE
TIME SERVED: STILL SERVING

Jon-Adrian “J.J.” Velazquez was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life for the 1998 shooting death of Albert Ward, a retired police officer who owned and operated an illegal gambling spot in Harlem. Ward was shot and killed in the course of a robbery. Following the robbery, witnesses provided a description of the gunman as “a light-skinned black male with dreadlocks,” which prompted the search for “Mustafa,” a known drug dealer who fit the description. After learning that he was being sought by the police, Mr. Velazquez attempted to vindicate himself of the allegations by voluntarily subjecting himself to a lineup. Out of nine eyewitnesses present at the scene of the crime, three identified him at the lineup. Despite being a light-skinned Latino who had never had dreadlocks, even though there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, and despite providing phone records which corroborated his alibi and showed that he was talking to his mother during the time of the crime, Mr. Velazquez was sentenced to 25 years to life. Since then, two of the witnesses have recanted, and the other eyewitness has expressed serious doubts. Mr. Velazquez and his alibi witness have both taken lie detector tests and have passed them. He is currently in his 19th year, and Jason Flom interviews him from inside the walls of Sing Sing Correctional Facility for this special edition of Wrongful Conviction.

CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE: U.S. ARMY SERGEANT WRONGFULLY CONVICTED OF 3 RAPES
CONVICTION: RAPE, ASSAULT
SENTENCE: LIFE
TIME SERVED: 19 YEARS

On November 16, 1983, a 28-year-old woman was attacked and sexually assaulted by an unknown male as she was walking home from work in Lowell, MA. The following evening, a 23-year-old woman was attacked less than one hundred yards away from the site of the first assault. Even though no biological evidence could link him to any of the crimes, Dennis Maher, who was a sergeant in the United States Army at the time, was arrested and charged with both attacks, in addition to an unsolved rape from the previous summer. He was convicted based on eyewitness misidentifications made by the victims, all of whom identified him in photographic lineups. In 2001, evidence from the assaults was recovered and subjected to DNA testing, yielding a genetic profile that excluded Mr. Maher as a suspect. In 2003, results from DNA testing of evidence from the rape victim also excluded Mr. Maher as a suspect, and he was exonerated after spending 19 years fighting to prove his innocence from behind bars. Mr. Maher is joined by attorney Alex Spiro and New England Innocence Project Director of Communications Hannah Riley.

SENTENCED TO DEATH, EXONERATED BY DNA: THE WRONGFUL CONVICTION OF KIRK BLOODSWORTH
CONVICTION: MURDER, RAPE
SENTENCE: DEATH
TIME SERVED: 8 YEARS

Kirk Bloodsworth, an honorably discharged former Marine, was the first person sentenced to death and subsequently exonerated by DNA testing. He was 22 years old in 1984 when he was arrested for the rape and murder of nine-year-old Dawn Hamilton and sentenced to death in Baltimore County, Maryland. Mr. Bloodsworth was arrested based on an anonymous call telling police that he was seen with the victim that day and an identification made by a witness from a police sketch shown on television. The description of the perpetrator was a 6 ft, 5 in tall white man with curly blond hair, a bushy mustache, skinny, and tan. Mr. Bloodsworth was 6 ft, had red hair, and was well over 200 pounds. Though there was no physical evidence connecting him to the crime, Kirk Bloodsworth was convicted based on the testimony of five witnesses who placed him either with the victim or near the scene of the crime. The Maryland Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in 1986, finding that the prosecution had illegally withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense, and he was then retried, convicted again, and sentenced to two life terms. In the early 1990s, Mr. Bloodsworth learned about DNA testing and the opportunities it could provide to prove his innocence. The prosecution finally agreed to DNA testing for Mr. Bloodsworth’s case in 1992. The victim’s shorts and underwear, a stick found at the scene, and an autopsy slide were compared against DNA from the victim and Bloodsworth. The DNA lab determined that testing on the panties excluded Mr. Bloodsworth, and he was released from prison in June 1993 and pardoned in December 1993. Mr. Bloodsworth had spent almost nine years in prison, two of those years facing execution. He is now a published author and was instrumental in Maryland’s abolishment of the death penalty. The introduction of the Innocence Protection Act of 2003 established the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program, a program that helps states defray the costs of post-conviction DNA testing.

FROM PRISON TO PROCLAIMING JUSTICE: THE WRONGFUL CONVICTION OF JASON BALDWIN
CONVICTION: MURDER
SENTENCE: LIFE
TIME SERVED: 17 YEARS

At 16 years old, Jason Baldwin along with Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley – known as the West Memphis Three –was convicted in 1994 of killing three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. There was no DNA linking the WM3 to the crime, and some of the DNA found at the crime scene even seemed to implicate the stepfather of one of the victims. The case gained national attention soon after the teenagers' arrests when word was leaked that the murders were committed as part of a satanic ritual. A key prosecution witness in the second trial was a self-proclaimed cult expert who stated that the murders bore "trappings" of the occult. This testimony, combined with testimony about books Damien Echols read and some of his writings, plus evidence that he and Mr. Baldwin liked heavy-metal music and several black t-shirts were found in Mr. Baldwin's closet, helped to convict the two teenagers. Mr. Baldwin received life without parole; Echols was sentenced to death, and Misskelley was sentenced to 40 years. After serving more than 17 years in prison, all three of the WM3 took the Alford Plea, which meant that the state of Arkansas admitted no wrongdoing. After being released, Jason Baldwin executive produced the 2014 film about his tragic saga, Devil’s Knot. He is joined by the co-founder of the Innocence Project, Barry Scheck.

GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT: THE WRONGFUL CONVICTION OF TONY WRIGHT
CONVICTION: MURDER, RAPE, BURGLARY
SENTENCE: LIFE
TIME SERVED: 25 YEARS

Tony Wright endured two trials and 25 years in prison before a jury found him not guilty for the rape, sodomy and murder of Louise Talley, a 77-year-old woman in Philadelphia. Mr. Wright, who was only 20 years old when he was arrested in 1993, signed a confession after being beaten and threatened by the interrogating detectives. He was sentenced to life in prison—he narrowly escaped the death penalty after the jury voted against it 7 to 5. Later DNA testing of the rape kit not only excluded Mr. Wright as a suspect, but also identified Ronnie Byrd as the real assailant. On August 23, 2016, Tony Wright was exonerated, and he became the 344th DNA exoneree in the nation. He is joined by co-founder of the Innocence Project, Peter Neufeld.

MISTAKEN IDENTITY: THE WRONGFUL MURDER CONVICTION OF FRANKY CARRILLO
CONVICTION: MURDER
SENTENCE: LIFE
TIME SERVED: 20 YEARS

Francisco Carrillo Jr. was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1992 in the fatal drive-by shooting of Donald Sarpy in Lynwood. Mr. Carrillo, who was 16 at the time of the 1991 shooting, maintained his innocence through two trials and in prison. His conviction relied on eyewitness testimony from six people. Mr. Carrillo said that a gang of corrupt and racist Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies -- known as the "Lynwood Vikings" coerced and threatened key witnesses into identifying him in a photo lineup. In 2011, a judge overturned his conviction after witnesses later admitted they did not have a view of the shooter, and instead had been influenced by police officers, and each other, to identify Mr. Carrillo. Two men since confessed to the crime, and stated Mr. Carrillo was not involved. Since his release, Mr. Carrillo has gotten married, started a family and obtained a bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount University. He received a $10 million settlement from LA County in 2016 and is currently planning on running for State Assembly in California.

LIVE AT SXSW WITH THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR
CONVICTION: AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A CHILD, INDECENCY WITH A CHILD
SENTENCE: 82 YEARS COMBINED
TIME SERVED: 62 YEARS COMBINED

In 1995, 20-year-old Elizabeth Ramirez and three of her friends —Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez — were indicted on charges of sexually molesting Ms. Ramirez’s 7-year-old and 9-year-old nieces in San Antonio, Texas. Before charges were filed, police learned that all four women were gay and had recently come out to their families. The allegations came in the wake of more than a decade of national hysteria over claims of satanic ritual abuse of children. All four women cooperated with authorities but vehemently denied they molested the girls. In both trials, prosecutors won convictions by discounting the many inconsistencies in the little girls’ testimonies and argued that the inconsistencies were outweighed by the testimony of a pediatrician. Prosecutors portrayed Ms. Ramirez as the ringleader and tried her first. She was convicted in 1997 of aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child and sentenced to 37½ years in prison. The remaining women were tried together in 1998 and were each convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child. All three were sentenced to 15 years in prison on the aggravated sexual assault charges and 10 years for the indecency charges. The convictions began to unravel many years later when one of Ms. Ramirez's two nieces, now in her twenties, stepped forward to say she had lied. Members of her family coached her, she told authorities, to make up a story because of their anger about Ms. Ramirez's sexuality. Soon after, the pediatrician used by the prosecution recanted her testimony based on new scientific evidence that showed her original findings regarding the girls' injuries were medically inaccurate. With the new evidence, the Innocence Project of Texas filed for post-conviction relief to have the verdicts overturned. A Bexar County District Court allowed Ms. Mayhugh, Ms. Rivera and Ms. Ramirez to be released from prison in 2013 while the court considered their request to have their verdicts overturned. Ms. Vasquez had just been released on parole. They were finally exonerated in 2016 after serving a combined total of 62 years in prison.

WE ARE FAMILY: STORIES FROM THE 2017 INNOCENCE NETWORK CONFERENCE, PART ONE

This special edition of Wrongful Conviction was recorded at the 2017 Innocence Network Conference in San Diego, CA, where 170 exonerees and 750 members of the innocence movement gathered to honor newly freed people and learn about the latest developments in freeing the wrongfully convicted. Part One features interviews with Innocence Project Executive Director Maddy DeLone and exonerees Floyd Bledsoe and Cornelius Dupree. Floyd Bledsoe was exonerated in 2015 after 15 years in prison for a murder his brother committed. Since his release, Mr. Bledsoe has been a fierce advocate for mandatory recording of interrogations among other reforms in Kansas. Cornelius Dupree was exonerated in 2011, after spending more than 30 years in prison for a rape and robbery he didn’t commit. Mr. Dupree serves as the ambassador to all of the new exonerees at the Innocence Network Conferences.

JUSTICE HAD JUST BEGUN: STORIES FROM THE 2017 INNOCENCE NETWORK CONFERENCE, PART TWO

This special edition of Wrongful Conviction was recorded at the 2017 Innocence Network Conference in San Diego, CA, where 170 exonerees and 750 members of the innocence movement gathered to honor newly freed people and learn about the latest developments in freeing the wrongfully convicted. Part Two features interviews with Kristine Bunch and Obie Anthony. Kristine Bunch was 22 years old and pregnant when she was charged with setting a fire that claimed the life of her three-year-old son, Anthony, on June 30, 1995, in a trailer home they shared in Decatur County, Indiana. She was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 60 years for murder and 50 years for arson and languished behind bars for more than 17 years until her exoneration in 2012. Obie Anthony was 19 years old when he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in 1995. There was no physical evidence connecting him to the murder, and prosecutors relied on the testimony of John Jones, a convicted killer and pimp who ran a house of prostitution near the scene of the crime. He was exonerated in 2011 after serving 17 years in prison. Mr. Anthony is the founder and president of Exonerated Nation, a non-profit organization that offers exonerees a variety of support services so that they may successfully transition to life outside of prison and reintegrate back into society. His activism was instrumental in the passage of California AB 672 in October 2015, now known as Obie’s Law, which requires the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the DMV to provide up to one year of transitional services including job training, housing assistance, and mental health services to all eligible exonerees released from state prison.

GETTING INSIDE THE MIND AND SOUL OF ANTIONE DAY
CONVICTION: MURDER, ATTEMPTED MURDER
SENTENCE: 60 YEARS
TIME SERVED: 10 YEARS

Antione Day was a budding musician when he was convicted of first-degree murder in 1992 and sentenced to 60 years in prison. After serving a decade in prison, Mr. Day’s conviction was overturned with the help of his attorney, Howard Joseph. While some exonerees stand in the limelight upon release, Mr. Day quietly picked up the pieces of his life. He initially took employment in the construction field, and today he is the Outreach Coordinator of Prison Reentry at the Howard Area Employment Resource Center. In this position, Mr. Day mentors at-risk teens and parolees, implements job training and placement programs, and runs neighborhood stabilization and anti-violence programs. Antione Day co-founded the Life After Justice organization with Jarrett Adams, another exoneree, to help provide new exonerees with a place to live and a variety of services the men need to successfully re-enter society, such as job training, computer skills, finance classes, mentoring, and more. Mr. Day is joined by Laura Caldwell, a former civil trial attorney who is now a law professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She is also the director of Life After Innocence as well as a published author of 14 novels and one nonfiction book.

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