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Man Who Wrongfully Served 26 Years On Death Row Is Now Free

Man Who Wrongfully Served 26 Years On Death Row Is Now Free

Eddie Lee Howard was wrongfully convicted in 1994

Claire Reid

Claire Reid

A man who was wrongfully convicted of murder has been released after spending 26 years on death row.

Eddie Lee Howard was given the death sentence in 1994 after he was wrongfully convicted for the rape and murder of Georgia White, 84, in Columbus, Mississippi.

According to the Innocence Project, Howard's conviction was pinned 'almost entirely on now discredited bite mark evidence'.

In August last year, the Mississippi Supreme Court said the bite-mark comparisons were not enough to link him to the murder, adding that 'an individual perpetrator cannot be reliably identified through bite-mark comparison'.

The court wrote: "After reviewing the record, we conclude that Howard's evidence as to the change in the scientific understanding of the reliability of identification through bite-mark comparisons was almost uncontested.

"Based on this record, we agree with Howard that a forensic dentist would not be permitted to identify Howard as the biter today as Dr. West did at Howard's trial in 2000."

Alongside, this lawyers from the Innocence Project were also able to use alibi witnesses and DNA testing of crime scene evidence to prove Howard's innocence.

Following his release, Howard said: "I want to say many thanks to the many people who are responsible for helping to make my dream of freedom a reality.

"I thank you with all my heart, because without your hard work on my behalf, I would still be confined in that terrible place called the Mississippi Department of Corrections, on death row, waiting to be executed."

M. Chris Fabricant, one of Howard's Innocence Project attorneys thanked the court for the ruling, saying: "The Mississippi Supreme Court has taken a powerful stance in rejecting junk science as the basis on which to put a man to death.

"We are thankful that the Court has identified this breakdown in Mr. Howard's case, ruling that debunked science has no place in our justice system."

While fellow attorney Vanessa Potkin, added: "Like Mr. Howard, 21 other men and women on death row across the country have had their innocence proven by DNA, including Kennedy Brewer.


"Mr. Brewer, who is also a black man, spent 15 years on Mississippi's death row based on false bite mark evidence.

"We know there are more innocent people currently on death row pleading for post-conviction relief. The death penalty is the most extreme and irreversible form of punishment.

"Mr. Howard's case is a prime example of why we cannot afford to use it when human error is still so prevalent in the criminal justice system."

You can find out more about the work of the Innocence Project here.

Featured Image Credit: Innocence Project

Topics: US News, crime