WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Three men in Maryland, who served 36 years in prison were freed Monday after new evidence exonerated them in the killing of a teenager in 1983.
- Earlier this year, the Baltimore City state’s attorney office reopened the case after one of them sent a letter to the Conviction Integrity Unit.
- The trio — Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins, and Andrew Stewart — were discharged after the review of their case.
Three Maryland men who served for more than 3 decades in prison for a murder they didn’t commit were exonerated and released from jail on Monday afternoon after their case has been reviewed.
In November 1983, Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins, and Andrew Stewart were arrested in connection with the murder of teenager DeWitt Duckett. The 14-year-old was accosted over his Georgetown jacket and shot in the neck while walking to class at a Baltimore school, Fox News reported.
Baltimore City state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby told Baltimore’s Fox 45 that detectives targeted the three men by coercing other teenage witnesses to make their case.
Mosby added that evidence that could have helped the young men to be freed was kept from their defense team and the jury. Chestnut, Watkins, and Stewart, all black men, were still in their teens when they were sentenced to life in prison in 1984.
Earlier this year, Mosby’s office reopened the case after Chestnut sent a letter to the Conviction Integrity Unit. According to The Washington Post, Chestnut had included exculpatory evidence he only learned just last year.
Prosecutors now say police reports show multiple witnesses told police that the real shooter, who was 18 at the time of the crime, fled the scene and dumped the gun as police arrived at Harlem Park Junior High School. One student reportedly saw the shooter but authorities at the time focused their investigation on Chestnut, Watkins, and Stewart.
However, the suspect identified by witnesses was fatally shot in 2002.
In 1984, an assistant prosecutor on the case told the court that the state did not have any reports that would have raised doubts about the defendants’ guilt even though police records had statements involving the 18-year-old suspect. Records also showed trial witnesses had failed to identify the trio in photo lineups. Chestnut was able to obtain those documents through a public records request last year.
“Everyone involved in this case — school officials, police, prosecutors, jurors, the media, and the community — rushed to judgment and allowed their tunnel vision to obscure obvious problems with the evidence,” said Shawn Armbrust, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, which represents Watkins. He added that “this case should be a lesson to everyone that the search for quick answers can lead to tragic results.”
Source: Fox News