Overturned convictions in the United States

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  1. Jack Ruby

    Jack Ruby


    Jack Leon Ruby (born Jacob Leon Rubenstein; March 25, 1911 – January 3, 1967) was a nightclub operator in Dallas, Texas. On November 24, 1963, Ruby fatally shot Lee Harvey Oswald, who was in police custody after being charged with the assassination of John F. Kennedy two days earlier. A Dallas jury found Ruby guilty of murdering Oswald, and Ruby was sentenced to death. Later, Ruby appealed his conviction, had it overturned and was granted a new trial. As the date for his new trial was being set, Ruby became ill and died of a pulmonary embolism due to lung cancer.

  2. Andrea Yates

    Andrea Yates


    Andrea Pia Kennedy Yates (born July 2, 1964) is a former resident of Houston, Texas, who confessed to drowning her five children in their bathtub on June 20, 2001. She had been suffering for some time with very severe postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. She was represented by Houston criminal defense attorney George Parnham. Chuck Rosenthal, the district attorney in Harris County, asked for the death penalty in her 2002 trial. Her case placed the M'Naghten Rules with the Irresistible Impulse Test, a legal test for sanity, under close public scrutiny in the United States. She was convicted of capital murder. After the guilty verdict, but before sentencing, the State abandoned its request for the death penalty in light of false testimony by one of its expert psychiatric witnesses. She was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years. The verdict was overturned on appeal.

  3. Geronimo Pratt

    Geronimo Pratt


    Geronimo Pratt (born Elmer Pratt, September 13, 1947 – June 2, 2011), also known as Geronimo ji-Jaga and Geronimo ji-Jaga Pratt, was a high-ranking member of the Black Panther Party. The Federal Bureau of Investigation targeted him in a COINTELPRO operation, which aimed to "neutralize Pratt as an effective BPP functionary." Pratt was tried and convicted of the kidnap and murder of Caroline Olsen in 1972, and spent 27 years in prison, eight of which were in solitary confinement. Pratt was freed in 1997 when his conviction was vacated. He was working as a human rights activist up until the time of his death. Pratt was also the godfather of the late rapper Tupac Shakur. He died of a heart attack in his adopted country, Tanzania, on June 3, 2011.

  4. The Exonerated

    The Exonerated (2005)


    The Exonerated is a made-for-cable television film that dramatizes the true stories of six people who had been wrongfully convicted of murder and other offenses, placed on death row, and later exonerated and freed after serving varying years in prison. It was based on a successful stage play of the same name written by Erik Jensen and Jessica Blank and first aired on the former CourtTV cable television network on January 27, 2005. It is directed by Bob Balaban was produced by Radical Media.

  5. Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter

    Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter


    Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (May 6, 1937 – April 20, 2014) was an American/Canadian middleweight boxer who was wrongfully convicted of murder and later freed via a petition of habeas corpus after spending almost 20 years in prison.

  6. Robert Hillary King

    Robert Hillary King


    Robert Hillary King, also known as Robert King Wilkerson, was a member of the Black Panther Party who spent 32 years in Angola Prison, 29 of them in solitary confinement. King first entered Angola at the age of 18, for a robbery conviction. In his book, From the Bottom of the Heap: The Autobiography of Robert Hillary King, he admits to some non-violent burglaries at the time, but maintains his innocence regarding this conviction and every one since. Granted parole in 1965, at the age of 22, he returned to New Orleans, got married, and began a brief semi-pro boxing career as “Speedy King.” He was then arrested on charges of robbery, just weeks before his wife Clara gave birth to their son. After being held for over 11 months, his friend pled guilty to a lesser charge and was released on time served. Simultaneously, the DA dropped the charges against King, but he was not released, because his arrest, coupled with his friend’s guilty plea was deemed a parole violation. King was sent back to Angola where he served 15 months and was released again in 1969.

  7. Jeffrey Mark Deskovic

    Jeffrey Mark Deskovic


    Jeffrey Mark Deskovic (born October 27, 1973) was wrongly convicted in 1990 at the age of seventeen of raping, beating, and strangling Angela Correa, a 15-year-old high school classmate at Peekskill High School.

  8. Mickey Featherstone

    Mickey Featherstone


    Francis T. "Mickey" Featherstone (born June 3, 1949) is a former Irish American mobster and member of the Westies, an organized crime syndicate from Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan in New York City, led by James Coonan. Featherstone committed several mob killings before he was convicted in 1986 of a murder he had not committed. Facing a quarter of a century in jail, he became an informant and brought down Coonan's gang.

  9. David Camm

    David Camm


    David Ray Camm (born March 23, 1964) is a former state trooper who was acquitted and released in 2013 after his third trial on charges of murdering his wife, Kimberly, and children, Brad, 7, and Jill, 5, at their Georgetown, Indiana home on September 28, 2000. He had been found guilty in two earlier trials, but these verdicts were overturned on appeal. Camm now works as a case coordinator for a non-profit wrongful conviction advocacy organization called Investigating Innocence that provides criminal defense investigations for inmates.

  10. John David Provoo

    John David Provoo


    John David Provoo (August 6, 1917–August 28, 2001) was United States Army staff sergeant and practicing Buddhist who was convicted of treason for his conduct as a Japanese prisoner of war during World War II. His conviction was later overturned and he became a Buddhist priest.

  11. Richard Alexander (exonerated convict)

    Richard Alexander (exonerated convict)


    Richard Alexander is an Indiana man wrongfully convicted of rape and later exonerated by DNA evidence.

  12. Marcus Dixon

    Marcus Dixon


    Marcus Dwayne Dixon (born September 16, 1984) is a former American football defensive end. He was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He played college football at Hampton University.

  13. Wrongful conviction of Steve Titus

    Wrongful conviction of Steve Titus


    The wrongful conviction of Steve Titus was a miscarriage of justice in which Steve Titus (1950–1986), an American businessman, was wrongly convicted of rape. Titus was fired from his job after the conviction and, though the charges were soon dismissed, he became long term unemployed. The crime was later determined to have been committed by serial rapist Edward Lee King. Journalist Paul Henderson was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for his work on the case. Jack Olsen's book Predator examined the investigation of the crime and the life of the real criminal.

  14. Anthony Massingill

    Anthony Massingill


    Anthony Massingill is an American who was convicted in a Dallas, Texas court of a 1979 rape and robbery for which recent DNA test results support his claim of innocence. He was jointly convicted in the case along with Cornelius Dupree who was on January 4, 2011 fully exonerated of the charges. Massingill is represented by the Texas Wesleyan Innocence Project and is likely to be cleared at a later hearing.

  15. Ray Krone

    Ray Krone


    Ray Krone (born January 19, 1957) is an American who was wrongfully convicted of murder. He holds the distinction of being the 100th inmate exonerated from death row since the death sentence was reinstated in 1976.

  16. Ruben Cantu

    Ruben Cantu


    Ruben Montoya Cantu (December 5, 1966 – August 24, 1993) was a Texan who was executed for murder committed when he was 17 years old. During the years following the conviction, the surviving victim, the co-defendant, the District Attorney, and the jury forewoman have all made public statements that cast doubt on Cantu's guilty verdict and death sentence.

  17. Johnson Chesnut Whittaker

    Johnson Chesnut Whittaker


    Johnson Chesnut Whittaker (1858–1931) was one of the first black men to win an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. When at the academy, he was brutally assaulted and then expelled after being falsely accused and convicted of faking the incident. Over sixty years after his death, his name was formally cleared when he was posthumously commissioned by President Bill Clinton.

  18. Cornelius Dupree

    Cornelius Dupree


    Cornelius Dupree Jr. (born September 22, 1959) is an American who was declared innocent of a 1980 conviction for aggravated robbery, which was alleged to have been committed during a rape in 1979. He had been paroled in July 2010, after serving 30 years of a 75-year prison sentence in Texas. Prosecutors cleared him of the crime after a test of his DNA profile did not match traces of semen evidence from the case. Dupree, who had been represented by the Innocence Project, spent more time in prison in the state than any other inmate who had been exonerated by DNA evidence.

  19. Robert Elmer Kleason

    Robert Elmer Kleason


    Robert Elmer Kleason (September 20, 1934 – April 21, 2003) was an American who was convicted and sentenced to death in 1975 for the murder of two missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in the area known as Oak Hill, on the southern outskirts of Austin, Texas in October 1974. However, after two years on Texas' death row, an appeals court overturned Kleasen's conviction in November 1977, ruling that the search of his home was illegal and that key evidence had to be excluded.

  20. Juan Roberto Melendez-Colon

    Juan Roberto Melendez-Colon


    Juan Roberto Melendez-Colon (born May 24, 1951) is a public speaker and human rights activist who was wrongly convicted of murder and spent over 17 years on Death Row. He was released from prison on January 3, 2002, making him the 99th Death Row inmate in the United States to be exonerated and released from prison since 1973.

  21. Dhoruba al-Mujahid bin Wahad

    Dhoruba al-Mujahid bin Wahad


    Dhoruba al-Mujahid bin Wahad (born Richard Earl Moore, 1945) is an American writer and activist, who is a former prisoner, Black Panther Party leader, and co-founder of the Black Liberation Army. Dhoruba, in Swahili, means "he who is born in the storm".

  22. Bernard Baran

    Bernard Baran


    Bernard F. Baran, Jr. (May 25, 1965 – September 1, 2014) was wrongfully convicted in the day care sex abuse hysteria of the 1980s and 1990s that was spawned by the McMartin preschool trial. Unlike other day care cases, the Baran case garnered little national press coverage. The Baran case spanned almost 25 years from his arrest in October 1984 until all charges were dropped in June 2009. Baran maintained his innocence throughout his case, making him ineligible for parole. Baran was accused, tried and convicted within a three-month period and sentenced to three life sentences in January 1985. In 2009, the Massachusetts Appeals Court vacated the convictions, deeming the case "notorious," and citing the behavior of the original prosecutor as "troubling." Along with its importance as the first successful conviction, the Baran case is notable amongst the day-care cases for the level of homophobia present in the court record of the prosecution. The Baran case is the subject of the documentary film Freeing Bernie Baran.

  23. Karen Bennett Carlin

    Karen Bennett Carlin


    Jack Leon Ruby (born Jacob Leon Rubenstein; March 25, 1911 – January 3, 1967) was a nightclub operator in Dallas, Texas. On November 24, 1963, Ruby fatally shot Lee Harvey Oswald, who was in police custody after being charged with the assassination of John F. Kennedy two days earlier. A Dallas jury found Ruby guilty of murdering Oswald, and Ruby was sentenced to death. Later, Ruby appealed his conviction, had it overturned and was granted a new trial. As the date for his new trial was being set, Ruby became ill and died of a pulmonary embolism due to lung cancer.

  24. Jack Davis (prospector)

    Jack Davis (prospector)


    Jackson Lee "Diamondfield Jack" Davis (1864–1949) was pardoned for the 1896 Deep Creek Murders in Idaho and would later strike it rich in Nevada, where he established several mining towns, one named after his nickname "Diamondfield".

  25. Willie Earl Green

    Willie Earl Green


    Willie Earl Green was sent to prison in 1983 for the murder of a woman in a South Los Angeles crack house, but after a change in testimony, authorities released him from prison in March 2008.

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