Wednesday, 26 September 2012


140 Innocent US Death Row
Inmates Exonerated
But an unknown number were executed before their innocence could be proven.
Source: The Death Penalty Information Center:

For Inclusion on DPIC's Innocence List:
Defendants must have been convicted, sentenced to death and subsequently either-
a) their conviction was overturned AND
i) they were acquitted at re-trial or
ii) all charges were dropped
b) they were given an absolute pardon by the governor based on new evidence of innocence.

For a fuller description of the criteria used in this list and the reasons why these criteria were chosen, see Section V of DPIC's most recent Innocence Report. See also an excerpt below from an article in the Baltimore Sun by Dan Rodricks regarding the use of the term "exonerated."

The Innocence List includes 140 cases in which the release occurred 1973 or later.
Below is three examples which are typical of many of the wrongfully convicted and sentenced to die cases:
 Wilbert Lee Florida Conviction: 1963, Pardoned: 1975

Freddie Pitts Florida Conviction: 1963, Pardoned: 1975

Although no physical evidence linked them to the deaths of two white men, Lee and Pitts' guilty pleas, the testimony of an alleged eyewitness, and incompetent defense counsel led to their convictions. The men were sentenced to death but maintained their innocence. After their convictions, another man confessed to the crime, the eyewitness recanted her accusations, and the state Attorney General admitted that the state had unlawfully suppressed evidence. The men were granted a new trial (Pitts v. State 247 So.2d 53 (Fla. 1971)) but were again convicted and sentenced to death. They were released in 1975 when they received a full pardon from Governor Askew, who stated he was "sufficiently convinced that they were innocent." (Florida Times-Union, 4/23/98).
Read "The Other 13 Survivors..." by Sydney Freedberg in The St. Petersburg Times

In the next case the inmate spent 33 years in prison:

Peter Limone Massachusetts Conviction: 1968, Charges Dismissed: 2001
Thirty -three years after being convicted and sentenced to death for a 1965 murder, Peter Limone's conviction has been overturned (Commonwealth v. Limone, 2001 Mass. Super. LEXIS 7 (2001)) and the case against him officially dropped. The move came as a result of a Justice Department task force's discovery of compelling new evidence that Limone and his co-defendants Joseph Salvati, Henry Tamelo, and Louis Greco were actually innocent of the murder of Edward Deegan. In 1968, all four were convicted and Limone was sentenced to die in Massachusetts' electric chair, but was spared in 1974 when Massachusetts abolished the death penalty and his sentence was commuted to life in prison. Salvati, who was released from prison in 1997 when the governor commuted his sentence, received word from prosecutors that they were dropping the case against him as well. Tamelo and Greco both died in prison. At trial, the main witness against the four men was Joseph Barboza, a hit man cooperating with prosecutors, who later admitted that he had fabricated much of his testimony. The recently revealed FBI documents show that informants had told the FBI before the murder that Deegan would soon be killed and by whom, and a memorandum after the crime listed the men involved. Neither list included Limone, Salvati, Tamelo or Greco. (New York Times, 2/2/01 and Boston Herald, 1/21/01)

Read "Free at Last" by People Magazine

Peter’s Piece

Do you still believe in the death penalty?