Wrongful Conviction Podcasts

by Lava for Good Podcasts | PRX

52m

average length

368

episodes

13

followers

Wrongful Conviction Podcasts share the stories of 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 stories about tragedy, triumph, unequal justice and actual innocence.

Best Wrongful Conviction Podcasts episodes upvoted by the community

Last updated on September 26, 2020, 1:46 pm

#3

S7E6: Rafael Madrigal: Convicted of Attempted Murder after Drive-By Shooting Despite Airtight Alibi

October 09, 2018

Rafael Madrigal and co-defendant Francisco Olivares were charged with committing a drive-by shooting in East Los Angeles on behalf of the Ford Maravilla gang and convicted in January of 2002.Witnesses testified that Madrigal and Olivares committed the July 2000 shooting. Madrigal contended his innocence from the beginning; at the time of the shooting he was at work at Proactive Packaging & Display in Rancho Cucamonga, approximately 35 miles away.The petition submitted on Madrigal’s behalf established his alibi and argued that his trial counsel was ineffective in his representation, failing to call an alibi witness or properly investigate the case.During an evidentiary hearing on November 3, 2008, alibi witness Robert Howards, Madrigal’s direct supervisor at Proactive, testified that the production line would have shut down had Madrigal not been at work. Madrigal was the only employee trained to operate the laminating machine and his failure to operate that piece of machinery would have impacted production. Howards was never called as a witness, despite his submission of a notarized alibi statement in Madrigal’s defense.An audio tape was also produced during the evidentiary hearing. On the tape was a telephone conversation between Olivares and his girlfriend. In the conversation, Olivares admits that Madrigal was not involved in the shooting, nor did he know any details of the crime. The audio tape was never entered as evidence. The alibi witness and audio tape prove Madrigal’s innocence. Together, both pieces of evidence were crucial in the reversal of Madrigal’s conviction.“Rafael should never have been convicted of this crime,” says Justin P. Brooks, Director of the California Innocence Project and Professor of Law at California Western School of Law.“Iam so pleased that the truth has come out. He is another innocent victim of a flawed justice system.”U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess granted a petition filed by the California Innocence Project and Attorney Eric Multhaup, effectively reversing the 2002 murder conviction of Rafael Madrigal. The decision follows the recommendation of U.S. Magistrate Judge Marc Goldman. Madrigal is the third person in three months to be exonerated by the California Innocence Project, based at California Western School of Law in San Diego.CaliforniaInnocenceProject.orgMake aGIFTto California Innocence Project here.

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#4

S7E13: How Crystal Weimer Won an 11 Year Fight For Freedom [Rebroadcast]

December 17, 2018 • 49m

S7E13: How Crystal Weimer Won an 11 Year Fight for Freedom Curtis Haith was beaten to death and shot outside of his home in western Pennsylvania. Police determined that the evening before Haith had attended a party in Uniontown, PA. Crystal Weimer, whose sisters hosted the party, and her cousin had driven Haith home and returned directly to the party. Crystal became the focus of the investigation after an ex-boyfriend told authorities she confessed. The charges were dropped when he recanted, but police re-filed the charges in 2004 with the use of statements given by Joseph Stenger, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy of homicide of Haith while he was serving time for unrelated robbery charges. Stenger testified that Crystal had an earlier physical altercation with Haith, and she enlisted Stenger and two unidentified black men to return to Haith’s house after where she lured him outside, and they beat him to death and shot him in the face. At her trial in 2006, the only physical evidence that directly tied Crystal to the crime scene was an alleged bite mark on the victim’s arm. Expert odontologist Dr. Constantine Karazulas told the jury that a mark on the victim’s hand was a bite mark made minutes before he died, and that Crystal is the one who bit him. During closing argument, the prosecution told the jury that the jailhouse informants who testified against her at the trial had not asked for any leniency on their own cases in return for their testimony. Crystal Weimer was convicted of third-degree murder and conspiracy to commit homicide and sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison. She continued to fight for her innocence, acting as her own lawyer and filing motions for post-conviction relief, but all were denied until a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus was filed on her behalf. In December 2014, Joseph Stenger ultimately recanted all of his statements and admitted that prosecutors dropped more serious charges against him in exchange for his testimony against Crystal. In early 2015, Dr. Constantine Karazulas, that same expert declared his own trial testimony "junk science" and "invalid." In February 2015, Crystal, represented pro bono by the Pennsylvania Innocence Project and the firm of Jones Day, filed a motion for a new trial based on the discredited bite mark evidence and the recantations of key witnesses. Her lawyers had also discovered that the prosecution had failed to disclose to Crystal’s trial counsel that the jailhouse informants had written letters to the prosecution requesting favorable treatment, which showed that the informants had testified falsely at trial when they denied they sought deals for their testimony. A new trial was ordered on October 1st, 2015, and Crystal Weimer was released the same day on bond after serving 11 years in prison. She was forced to wear an electronic ankle bracelet for another nine months until the judge dismissed the charges with prejudice, and she was finally exonerated in June 2016. Crystal is joined by one of her attorneys from the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, Nilaam Sanghvi, in this episode. wrongfulconvictionpodcast.com Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava For Good Podcasts in association with Signal Co. No1 and PRX.

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#9

S9E4: UPDATED + ADDITIONAL CONTENT: Jens Soering: Fatal Attraction to Free Man

December 04, 2019 • 63m

Jens Soering: Fatal Attraction to Free Man This is an updated episode from season 8 with 22 minutes of new content. In 1985, Derek and Nancy Haysom were found brutally stabbed to death in their Bedford County, VA home - both nearly decapitated. When their daughter Elizabeth Haysom became a prime suspect, she and her boyfriend, Jens Soering, the son of a German diplomat, fled the country. The authorities finally caught up with them in London, and if extradited and found guilty, Elizabeth would face the electric chair. Under the illusion that his father’s diplomatic status would protect him from facing the death penalty in Virginia, Jens sacrificed himself for Elizabeth and gave a false confession that was riddled with inconsistencies. Upon learning of his misunderstanding and before being extradited to the US for trial, Jens fought and won a landmark judgment (Soering v UK) in the European Court of Human Rights, protecting himself from facing the death penalty upon his deliverance to Virginia. At Jens’ trial, prosecutor Jim Updike told the jury that Soering's confession was corroborated by several drops of type O blood at the crime scene - Jens’ blood type. None of the Haysoms had type O, so the blood had to be his. Updike repeated this claim 26 times. Jens was sentenced to 2 consecutive life terms. Elizabeth was convicted as an accessory. After almost 30 years in prison, DNA testing eliminated Jens Soering as a possible source of the type O blood at the scene. In 2017, two independent DNA scientists confirmed these findings, and they also found DNA evidence showing the presence of a second unknown man with type AB blood. The crime remains unsolved; however, Jens Soering’s wrongful conviction remains on his record. After over 33 years in prison, he was paroled on November 25th, 2019, along with Elizabeth Haysom. In this episode, you will hear excerpts of the original interview with Jens Soering, novelist John Grisham, and Sheriff J.E. "Chip” Harding of Albemarle County, VA. Then, Jens and Jason go over parole board strategy with Dr Phil, and finally, we hear reactions from Amanda Knox and Sheriff Harding - both of whom worked so hard on Jens’ behalf. Thanks to the amazing Small Town Big Crime podcast for providing additional audio. Thanks to the very generous Freedom Wynn for additional engineering.  http://wrongfulconvictionpodcast.com Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava For Good Podcasts in association with Signal Co. No1 and PRX.

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#11

Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom - Calvin Buari

June 11, 2018 • 69m

S6E2: The Story Behind Empire on Blood: Calvin Buari’s Trial by Ambush and Two Decades in Hell Calvin Buari served 22 years for a double murder in the Bronx, even though someone else confessed to the crime. In the early 1990s, Calvin Buari was a well-known crack cocaine distributor in the Bronx, and authorities blamed him for a spasm of bloodshed there; the press reported that he practiced "black magic" and was a murderous thug. In 1992, a disgruntled drug associate who had recently shot Calvin implicated him in the murder of Elijah and Salhaddin Harris, who were parked when a gunman walked up and fired about a dozen rounds into their car. Calvin was charged with the double murder and six rival drug dealers testified against him at his 1995 murder trial. No physical evidence connected him to the crime. A jury took only two hours to convict Calvin of murder, and he was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison. He never stopped fighting for his freedom, and the case took a turn with a 2003 affidavit from the key witness against him, Dwight Robinson, who confessed to the crime, stating that he “pinned this double murder on Calvin Buari because of a dispute between Calvin and me, and because I wanted complete control of my drug spot.” Journalist Steve Fishman followed Calvin’s story for seven years and eyewitnesses, first interviewed by Fishman, testified in court in 2015 that Calvin was not the murderer. By May 2017, a judge overturned the conviction and ordered 46-year-old Calvin Buari freed. In this episode, Calvin is joined by Steve Fishman, who chronicles his journey for justice in the hit podcast Empire on Blood. wrongfulconvictionpodcast.com Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava For Good™ Podcasts in association with Signal Co. No1 and PRX.

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#12

S5E5: Malcolm Alexander: An Innocent Man, a One Day Trial, and 38 Years in Prison - A Tragic Miscarriage of Justice

April 02, 2018 • 57m

S5E5: Malcolm Alexander: An Innocent Man, a One Day Trial and 38 Years in Prison—A Tragic Miscarriage of Justice Malcolm Alexander was wrongfully convicted for a 1979 rape in Gretna, LA and spent nearly four decades incarcerated before DNA evidence proved his innocence. In February 1980, police arrested 20-year-old Malcolm Alexander after a white woman accused him of sexually assaulting her. Malcolm, who is black, told police that the sex occurred after he gave the woman money and that it was consensual. This encounter, which was uncorroborated and later dropped, prompted police to place Malcolm’s photo in an array that was shown to the 1979 rape victim over four months after she was attacked at gunpoint by a complete stranger. The assailant was behind the victim for the entirety of the crime, and her opportunity to view him was extremely limited. According to police reports, the victim “tentatively” selected Malcolm Alexander’s photo. Yet, police conducted a physical line-up three days later that included Malcolm, who was the only person from the photo array who was shown again to the victim in the physical line-up. Again, the victim made a “possible” identification and the word “tentative” was written next to Malcolm’s line-up number. However, when the original detective returned later that day to record a statement from the victim, the victim’s confidence was recorded as 98% sure that Malcolm Alexander was the assailant. He was arrested and charged with aggravated rape and he went to trial on November 5, 1980. The entire trial—from selection of the jury until the jury’s guilty verdict—lasted one day, and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Malcolm’s paid attorney, who was subsequently disbarred, failed to make court appearances and to file important pleadings, including a motion challenging the identification. The Innocence Project first took up Malcolm Alexander’s case in 1996 but quickly learned that the rape kit and a semen-stained towel had been destroyed only four years after his conviction. In 2013, new hair evidence recovered from the crime scene was found at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab. The tests showed that all three hairs came from the same person, and Malcolm Alexander was excluded as the source of the hairs. On January 30, 2018, absolved of the crime thanks to DNA evidence, Malcolm Alexander walked free from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola after serving 38 years. He is joined by his son Malcolm Jr. and Innocence Project's Director of Post-Conviction Litigation, Vanessa Potkin, in this episode. wrongfulconvictionpodcast.com Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava For Good Podcasts in association with Signal Co. No1 and PRX

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#16

Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom - Leroy Harris

March 19, 2018 • 49m

S5E3: The Wrongful Convictions and Multiple Escapes of Leroy Harris: 30 Years in Prison and a Story You Have to Hear to Believe From the moment he was charged with rape and robbery in 1989, Leroy Harris has insisted on his innocence. In May 1983, a New Haven, CT nightclub owner was robbed at gunpoint by three young men late one night. The men stole his car, and later that evening robbed and sexually assaulted two women. Leroy became one of the numerous suspects because he was misidentified. He was tried in April 1989, six years after the crimes were committed. Despite the fact that not a single eyewitness identified Leroy as being involved in the crimes prior to the trial, all four witnesses—the two assault victims, nightclub owner, and nightclub owner’s girlfriend—positively identified Leroy for the first time in court. He was convicted of three counts of robbery and one count of sexual assault in the first degree and sentenced to 80 years in prison. Even after his conviction, he fought the verdict through five appeals. Leroy finally got the Innocence Project of New York working on his case in 2012. The Innocence Project had the Connecticut forensic lab test new DNA evidence which excluded Leroy from the male DNA on the inside of one victim’s blouse. The sexual assault charge against Leroy was dismissed, but in order to be released, Leroy Harris agreed to enter “Alford” pleas to the remaining charges in exchange for his freedom. He spent almost 30 years in prison in Connecticut. wrongfulconvictionpodcast.com Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava For Good™ Podcasts in association with Signal Co. No1 and PRX.

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#18

S4E13: David McCallum With The Men Who Helped Free Him After 29 Years In Prison For A Crime He Didn’t Commit: Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez And Oscar Michelen

December 18, 2017

David McCallum and Willie Stuckey were both 16 when they were convicted of forcing a 20-year-old man into his Buick Regal at gunpoint in Ozone Park, Queens, killing him with a single gunshot to the head, then leaving his body in Aberdeen Park in Bushwick, Brooklyn. After being beaten by police and coerced into confessing, David McCallum and Willie Stuckey gave brief and contradictory confessions, each pinning the homicide on the other. They both recanted the confessions almost immediately and rejected offers to plead guilty in return for prison sentences of 15 years to life. On October 27th, 1986, a jury convicted them both of second-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree robbery and criminal use of a weapon, and they were each sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Mr. Stuckey died of a heart attack behind bars 16 years into his sentence in 2001, but Mr. McCallum persevered in trying to clear his name. After exhausting all of his appeals, Mr. McCallum’s attorney, Oscar Michelen approached Brooklyn District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit, and in 2014 District Attorney Ken Thompson's office and the Conviction Review Unit completed their reviews of McCallum's case, finding that there was no DNA evidence, physical evidence or credible testimony to link Mr. McCallum or Mr. Stuckey to the abduction or killing of the victim. On October 15, 2014, David McCallum and the late Willie Stuckey’s convictions were thrown out at DA Thompson’s request, and David McCallum was freed after serving nearly 30 years behind bars. In this special episode of Wrongful Conviction, Mr. McCallum is joined by Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez as well as attorney Oscar Michelen. Promoted by the late District Attorney Ken Thompson in 2014, Eric Gonzalez successfully guided the launch of several of the late DA Ken Thompson’s key initiatives, including the creation of the Conviction Review Unit, which has vacated over 20 unjust convictions to date and has been held up as a national model for other prosecutors’ offices. DA Gonzalez was sworn in as Acting District Attorney in October of 2016 after the passing of DA Thompson.

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#19

Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom - Ryan Ferguson

October 16, 2017 • 57m

S4E4: A Cold Case, a Dream, and a Tragic Miscarriage of Justice: The Wrongful Conviction of College Student Ryan Ferguson Ryan Ferguson was a 17-year-old high school student when Kent Heitholt, a sportswriter for the Columbia Daily Tribune, was found beaten and strangled in Missouri. Heitholt's murder went unsolved for two years until police received a tip that a man named Charles Erickson could not remember the evening of the murder and had told a friend that he thought he may have been involved. Erickson, who had spent that fateful evening partying with Ryan Ferguson, was interrogated by police and despite initially seeming to have no memory of the night of the murder, eventually confessed and implicated Ryan as well. Police offered Erickson a plea deal in exchange for testimony against Ryan at his trial in 2005. Despite the lack of any physical evidence tying Ryan Ferguson to the crime, he was convicted of second-degree murder and robbery and sentenced to 40 years in prison. In 2009, Kathleen Zellner took over Ryan’s case on a pro bono basis, and in 2013 his conviction was vacated. Since his release, Ryan Ferguson has become a published author of the book Stronger, Faster, Smarter: A Guide to Your Most Powerful Body, hosted a television series on MTV Unlocking the Truth, and an advocate for other wrongfully convicted individuals. wrongfulconvictionpodcast.com Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava For Good™ Podcasts in association with Signal Co. No1 and PRX.

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