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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat AntRobertson's Avatar
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    Wrongly imprisoned for 30 years

    A cause to pause for thought for the usual 'hang 'em!' brigade? Probably not, but it does go to show that you can't always be completely certain:

    Wrongly imprisoned for 30 years

    An Ohio man tasted freedom for the first time in nearly 30 years today after a judge overturned his conviction because DNA evidence showed he did not rape an 11-year-old girl.

    "It finally happened, I've been waiting," Raymond Towler, 52, said as he hugged sobbing family members in the courtroom.

    He walked from the courthouse, arms around relatives, amid the smell of freshly cut grass, blooming trees and a brisk wind off Lake Erie. He was headed to an "everything on it" pizza party.

    Asked how he would adjust, Towler responded: "Just take a deep breath and just enjoy life right now."

    Towler had been serving a life sentence for the rape of a girl in a Cleveland park in 1981. Prosecutors received the test results Monday and immediately asked the court to free him.

    Towler deflected a question about demanding an apology and said he understood justice can take time.

    "I think it was just a process, you know, the DNA," he said. "It just took a couple of years to get to it. We finally got to it and the job was done."

    In a brief, emotionally charged session, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Eileen Gallagher recapped the case, discussed the recently processed DNA evidence and threw out his conviction. She also told him that he can sue over his ordeal.

    Towler smiled lightly, nodded and kept his intertwined fingers on his lap.
    "You're free," the judge said, leaving the bench to shake Towler's hand at the defence table. The judge choked back tears as she offered Towler a traditional Irish blessing.

    The Ohio Innocence Project, an organisation that uses DNA evidence to clear people wrongfully convicted of crimes, said Towler was among the longest incarcerated people to be exonerated by DNA in US history.

    The longest was a man freed in Florida in December after serving 35 years, according to the project.

    Towler was arrested three weeks after the crime when a park ranger who had stopped him on a traffic violation noticed a resemblance with a suspect sketch. The victim and witnesses identified him from a photo, police said.

    Carrie Wood, a staff attorney with the project, said the identifications were questionable.

    The latest technology allowed separate DNA testing of a semen sample and other genetic material, possibly skin cells, she said.

    "That was the test result that we got this week and it excluded Mr. Towler," she said. "Because Mr. Towler's conviction was in `81, the technology did not exist to do the kind of DNA testing that we can do now."

    Attorneys with the project at the University of Cincinnati have been working on the Towler case since 2004, and Towler said that and his faith had given him hope.

    "That's how I've been living these last years, I've just been keeping hope," Towler said as relatives and friends crowded around him after the court session, some whooping, "Alleluia."

    Prosecutor Bill Mason said his staff would test crime-scene evidence to try to identify the attacker.
    - AP
    Wrongly imprisoned for 30 years - World - NZ Herald News

  2. #2
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    wow.

    bet he's now well and truly institutionalized.


  3. #3
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    compensation?

  4. #4
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    Wow. And being convicted of kiddie rape, I bet it wasn't a very pleasant three decades. One would think there would be compensation to the tune of millions, which wouldn't even begin to make up for thirty years, but the reality is that the courts usually limit compensation to a firm handshake and "sorry". Best of luck to him in his remaining years - and I hope I'm wrong about the possibility of compensation.

  5. #5
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    Also means there's been a rapist on the street for 30 years.

  6. #6
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    ^Good point.

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat AntRobertson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by good2bhappy
    compensation?
    You'd think / hope so. I'm not sure what, if anything, they base it on in the US though. There are certain criteria that have to be met in NZ and then some calculation that's applied - notoriously difficult to acheive though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Davis Knowlton
    Wow. And being convicted of kiddie rape, I bet it wasn't a very pleasant three decades.
    Didn't think of that aspect of it but yeah, he probably had an even harder time of it than 'normal' inmates.

  8. #8
    Tonguin for a beer
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    Quote Originally Posted by AntRobertson
    she offered Towler a traditional Irish blessing.
    What's that? A pint of guiness?

  9. #9
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    AFAIK former inmates who've been released upon being found innocent are entitled to less than inmates who finish their sentence.

    This is based on that they weren't criminals in the first place, commited no crime, and thus don't need the handouts and entitlements of those who did commit a crime.

    This was in a documentary I saw about 10 yrs ago about a similar case. The man was released and that was it. Wasn't entitled to any of the social care and entitlements that released criminals were. He was pretty messed with attempting to adjust back into society as a penniless citizen who was locked up for 20 years.

  10. #10
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    It's equally disgusting that DNA profiling is now about 15 or more years old, and it took this long for someone to look at the evidence. Some American prosecutors have actually fought requests for DNA testing by prisoners convicted before this technology was available, even requests by death row prisoners in Texas have been actively opposed by some law enforcement authorities. Almost like they know they have something to hide.

  11. #11
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    ^Which they often do.

  12. #12
    crocodilexp
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    Only a life sentence for kiddie fiddling!? He should have gotten the gas chamber. Had the state been prudent enough to do that, it wouldn't have this whole DNA-acquittal and innocent-man-in-prison mess now... and he'd not have spent 30 years in jail at taxpayer's expense, plus any compensation he's entitled to.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by good2bhappy View Post
    compensation?
    From another report of the same case:

    Clarence Elkins, who was freed in 2005 in Akron on the basis of DNA evidence after serving seven years in the rape and murder of his mother-in-law and the rape of a 6-year-old relative, watched from a rear courtroom seat.
    "Today is a great day. Once again, justice is served a little late, but better late than never," he said. "Almost 30 years is a very long time. One day is too long."
    Elkins, 47, won a $1.075 million settlement from the state for wrongful conviction and said he would recommend that Towler get counseling and take his new freedom day by day.

    "It's like being reborn again, a whole new life," Elkins said.

  14. #14
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    I decided to click the link to see if he was a colored gentleman, makes obama look like a whitey.




  15. #15
    Thailand Expat AntRobertson's Avatar
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    Relevance?

  16. #16
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    ^Seems to be a few black people around that time wrongly convicted.

  17. #17
    Thailand Expat AntRobertson's Avatar
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    I actually vaugely recall seeing some statistics on that somewhere? Tied to sentencing issues as well (i.e. a black man being convicted for the same crime as a white man is more likely to be given a longer/harsher sentence).

  18. #18
    lob
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    v

    relevance.

  19. #19
    Hansum Man! panama hat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AntRobertson
    Towler deflected a question about demanding an apology and said he understood justice can take time.
    He's more gracious than I would be in those circumstances

    Quote Originally Posted by good2bhappy
    compensation
    One would think loss of income at least . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by crocodilexp
    Only a life sentence for kiddie fiddling!? He should have gotten the gas chamber
    You're advocating a death sentence for something he didn't commit? Have a red

  20. #20
    Bounced
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    Towler deflected a question about demanding an apology and said he understood justice can take time.
    I think it's refreshing to read about a person who despite having been severely mistreated, something that no compensation can make up for, is not vindictive. By not dwelling on it he is probably able to put this behind him properly and live a happy life.

  21. #21
    Thailand Expat AntRobertson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crocodilexp View Post
    Only a life sentence for kiddie fiddling!? He should have gotten the gas chamber. Had the state been prudent enough to do that, it wouldn't have this whole DNA-acquittal and innocent-man-in-prison mess now... and he'd not have spent 30 years in jail at taxpayer's expense, plus any compensation he's entitled to.
    ... Am I missing some irony/sarcasm in this post?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by AntRobertson
    plus any compensation he's entitled to.
    He's entitled to a Lot. Thirty years, plus interest, even on minimum wage.

    Any decent person just abhors a miscarriage of justice. The fact that (not just in the USA) this has well above average involved Blacks is even more abhorable.

  23. #23
    I don't know barbaro's Avatar
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    Damn.

    30 years of your life that you'll never get back.

    Is there a price? I hope he gets some compensation.

    And yes, being in prison convicted for that crime must have been tough.

  24. #24
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    probably , when the dust has settled he will have just as hard a time reajusting to society . every face he looked at must have been ugly,, being looked upon as a child rapist .and no compensation , that is mean indeed.

  25. #25
    I am in Jail

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    Geez, good thing there was no death penalty.

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