Free After 30 Years

These stories simply drive me crazy. A completely innocent man spends 30 years on death row. For almost half that time, it was clear he was innocent but state officials would not reopen the case.

Anthony Hinton, 29 years old with no history of violent crime, steadfastly maintained his innocence. A polygraph test given by police exonerated him, but the judge (now-retired Circuit Judge James Garrett) refused to admit it at trial. Mr. Hinton was appointed a lawyer who mistakenly thought he could not get enough money to hire a qualified firearms examiner. Instead, he retained a visually-impaired civil engineer with no expertise in firearms identification who admitted he could not operate the machinery necessary to examine the evidence. With no credible expert to challenge the State’s assertion of a match, Mr. Hinton was convicted and sentenced to death.

The State’s evidence of a match was wholly discredited by three highly qualified firearms examiners, including the former chief of the FBI’s firearm and toolmarks unit, who testified in 2002 that the bullets from all three crimes could not be matched to a single gun at all, much less to Mrs. Hinton’s gun, and found that her gun could not have fired the bullets from the third uncharged robbery. For more than fifteen years, attorneys with the Equal Justice Initiative repeatedly have asked state officials to re-examine the evidence in this case, but former Jefferson County District Attorney David Barber, and Attorneys General from Troy King to Luther Strange, all failed to do so.

A productive life pretty much thrown away.

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