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Three Men Released After Being Wrongfully Jailed For School Shooting 36 Years Ago As Court Blames 'Police Misconduct'

Three Men Released After Being Wrongfully Jailed For School Shooting 36 Years Ago As Court Blames 'Police Misconduct'

Three men who were wrongly convicted of murder have been released after spending 36 years in prison.

Alfred Chestnut, Andrew Stewart, and Ransom Watkins were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a 14-year-old boy in Maryland in 1984.

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They were freed at a court in Baltimore on Monday when a judge cleared their convictions following a review of the case.

Mr Chestnut uncovered new evidence last year and sent it to the Conviction Integrity Unit in Baltimore, who then re-opened the case.

The three men were arrested in 1983 and charged with the murder of DeWitt Duckett, a 14-year-old high school student who was shot in the neck on his way to class and had his jacket stolen.

Alfred Chestnut embraces his mother. Credit: PA
Alfred Chestnut embraces his mother. Credit: PA

The murder attracted a load of media coverage and was the first fatal shooting involving a Baltimore public school student.

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At the time of their arrest, all three of the men convicted were also teenagers.

After their release, Baltimore state attorney Marilyn Mosby said: "These three men were convicted, as children, because of police and prosecutorial misconduct,"

In a following statement, her office said: "Detectives targeted the three men, all 16-year-old black boys, using coaching and coercion of other teenage witnesses to make their case".

The prosecutors in the case argued that the police had ignored and withheld testimony from several witnesses that identified another person as the killer.

Witnesses that were called to the trial failed to identify the three men convicted from photographic line-ups.

All of the witnesses to the original trial have now recanted their evidence, Ms Mosby said.

She added: "I don't think that today is a victory, it's a tragedy. And we need to own up to our responsibility for it,"

The other suspect in the case died in 2002.

The three men (from left) Andrew Stewart, Alfred Chestnut, and Ransom Watkins. Credit: PA
The three men (from left) Andrew Stewart, Alfred Chestnut, and Ransom Watkins. Credit: PA

Mr Chestnut obtained the vital documents after the making a public records request. The judge had previously sealed the case documents.

At a press conference following the release, Mr Watkins said: "This should never have happened".

"This fight is not over. You all will hear from us again."

Ms Mosby also announced the launch of a new programme called 'Resurrection After Exoneration' which is aimed at providing services that help those exonerated from wrongdoing integrate into society after their time in prison.

That includes support in education, as well as mental and physical health.

The State of Maryland does not currently have the legislation to guide compensation for those wrongly convicted of a crime, but Ms Mosby said that she would work to change that.

As things stand, the Board of Public Works has the authority to award compensation. In October, five men were awarded $9m (£7m) after they were wrongfully imprisoned for decades.

One of the inmates, Walter Lomax, received $3m, the largest payout the state has ever made for a wrongful conviction.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: US News

Tom Wood

Tom Wood is a LADbible journalist and Twin Peaks enthusiast. Despite having a career in football cut short by a chronic lack of talent, he managed to obtain degrees from both the University of London and Salford. According to his French teacher, at the weekends he mostly likes to play football and go to the park with his brother.” Contact Tom on [email protected]

 

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