Wrongfully Convicted Man Wins $27million
A man who spent 27 years of his life behind bars for a murder he didn't commit has won $27million - one for each year he spent in prison.
A federal court jury awarded Mark Schand, 55, the amount on Friday after he'd been sentenced to life without any possibility of parole for shooting Victoria Seymour in 1986.
The mother of three was caught in the cross fire in a rift between drug dealers Charles 'Heavy' Stokes and his brother, and two other Massachusetts men, Anthony Cooke and Michael Hosten.
Schand was wrongfully identified along with several others, with a witness telling police he was '50 per cent' sure that Schand was the gunman.
The Stokes brothers also identified Schand as the shooter, although one of them recanted his testimony three years later in 1989.
New evidence was considered by a judge in 2013, after it was uncovered by an innocence organisation and he was freed.
However, unhappy with being put in prison for no reason for over a quarter of a century, he decided to take action.
Schand went on to sue the city of Springfield and four police officers, believing they violated his civil rights. The lawsuit against the city was dismissed, and is currently awaiting appeal, but the case against the officers, who are all retired, was allowed to go ahead.
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Elmer McMahon, Leonard Scammons, Raymond Muise and Michael Reid were accused of giving 'unduly suggestive' evidence when the case went to trial, which Schand's legal team had no choice but to rely on.
Even Schand's lawyers were shocked to find that he was awarded $1million for each year of his life lost in prison.
Heather McDevitt, one of Schand's attorneys, said: "What are 27 years of a person's life worth? That is a very interesting philosophical question.
"There are experiences that can never be recreated. There is the pain and suffering and subjection to violence and isolation and loneliness."
But Schand was more bothered about his name being cleared.
He said: "After all this time, this is the first time there was some acknowledgement that someone [had] done something in my wrongful conviction, someone was responsible for it.
"And, you know, that was almost better than the monetary damages."
Schand isn't counting on getting the money anytime soon after being let down time and time again - after a series of labouring jobs, he now runs his own smoothie business in New Britain.
Featured Image Credit: New England Public Radio
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