Police Chiefs Lead Effort to Prevent Wrongful Convictions by Altering Investigative Practices

December 2, 2013— from The Washington Post
The nation's police chiefs will call Tuesday for changes in the way they conduct investigations as a way to prevent wrongful convictions, including modifying eyewitness identification.
In a joint effort with the Justice Department and the Innocence Project, an advocacy group for prisoners seeking exoneration through DNA testing, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) will urge police departments nationwide to adopt new guidelines for conducting photo lineups, videotaping witness interviews and corroborating information from jailhouse informants, among 30 recommendations.
Read more here.


Evidence Stored Away May Prove Joseph Sledge's Innocence

November 6, 2013— from the Raleigh News and Observer
As Joseph Sledge pleaded for his freedom this year, sheriff's deputies and prosecutors said whatever evidence they had from the 1976 double murder Sledge swore he didn't do had been lost or destroyed.
In August, stored in lockers in the Bladen County Sheriff's office, investigators with the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission found boxes and notebooks full of evidence that could be Sledge's ticket out of prison, his lawyers say.
The recovered evidence is the latest development in a fight for the freedom of Sledge, a 69-year-old-Army veteran who has been in prison more than half his life.
The discoveries by innocence commission investigators included evidence bolstering Sledge's insistence that he did not kill Josephine and Aileen Davis, a mother and daughter who lived together in the rural southeastern North Carolina community of Elizabethtown.  Among the information found in the sheriff's gun vault: details about an alternate suspect never provided to Sledge's original attorney as well as dozens of hand, finger and shoe prints left behind by the women's killer, according to a motion filed in the case this week.
Read more here.


Larry Lamb: N.C. Man Wrongly Convicted of Murder Released from Prison

August 13, 2013— from WSLS 10
A North Carolina man says he's excited about being released after spending 20 years behind bars for a homicide he didn't commit.
A judge last week vacated Larry Lamb's 1993 murder conviction, and prosecutors dismissed the charges Tuesday, said one of Lamb's attorneys, Christine Mumma of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence.
"I feel real, real good," the 63-year-old Lamb told The Associated Press after he was released from the Wake Correctional Center in Raleigh. "It feels good to stand on the outside and knowing that I'm on the way home. It's a blessing."
Read more here.


State v. Willie Grimes: Obtaining Freedom Through the Innocence Inquiry Process

Fall 2013— from the North Carolina State Bar Journal 
Willie Grimes spent nearly a quarter of a century in prison for a crime that he did not commit. Fingerprints on a banana discovered years later provided the proof of his innocence. His wrongful conviction was the result of careless and reckless police work, misleading hair comparison evidence, significant discovery violations, and misidentification. The discovery violations were dealt with by the court of appeals shortly after his conviction in one sentence finding “no error.”
It is often said that our criminal justice system is not perfect. However, the system failed entirely for Willie Grimes and took 24 years of his life. The case of State vs. Willie Grimes is a clear example of why judges and appellate courts must ensure fairness and compliance with discovery laws in our courts. The case also exemplifies the necessity of the Innocence Inquiry process.
Read more in the Fall 2013 edition of the NC State Bar Journal (p. 8-12)

Key Witness in Sledge Case Recants, Saying Investigators Pushed Him to Lie

March 26, 2013— from the Raleigh News and Observer
Two jailhouse informants sealed Joseph Sledge’s fate in 1978, offering a jury an elaborate story of a satanic-crazed Sledge stabbing to death a Bladen County mother and daughter.
One of those informants, Herman Baker, now says he lied, lured to testify with threats of arrest and promises of reward money and early parole.
Read more here.

Discarded Evidence Costs Some NC Inmates a Chance at Freedom

March 16, 2013— from the Raleigh News and Observer
For decades, claims of innocence have been thwarted by a simple, regrettable fact: The courts and police didn’t know how important pieces of evidence would be as modern science evolved.
Rape kits and blood-stained sheets were thrown away over the years – and, with them, the only shot some prisoners had to prove they were wrongly convicted.
Read more here.

Joseph Sledge: In prison for 34 years, but 'God knows I'm innocent'

March 16, 2013— from the Raleigh News and Observer
Joseph Sledge’s salvation rested in an envelope misplaced for years on a shelf so high in the Columbus County clerk’s evidence room that no one noticed it.
Sledge has languished in prison for 34 years. Since the 1990s, when the technology became widely available, he has begged anyone who would listen to perform DNA tests on evidence from his trial. Now the courts must reckon with his unwavering proclamations of innocence.
Read more here. 

'Free at Last': Innocence Commission Judges Determine Grimes is Innocent of 1987 Rape in Hickory, N.C.

October 5, 2012— from the Hickory Daily Record.
It ook the three-judge panel less than 30 minutes to decide that Willie Grimes was inncoent of a 1987 rape conviction for which he had served more than 24 years.
Judge David Lee read the panel decision, and said the charges of rape and kidnapping were dismissed, as well as having his name removed immediately from the sex offender registry.
Judge Fox commented on the state's creation of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission and the North Carolina Center on Actual in providing a forum for review of cases where there is concern over the criminal and judicial process.  Fox said, "This is perhaps one of the best changes in the judicial system in North Carolina in the last 100 years."
Read more at here.

NCCAI Turns Attention to Next Case

February 22, 2010— from WRAL
The North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, which helped free wrongfull convicted inmate Greg Taylor last week, has moved on to its next project— the release of convicted murderer Larry Lamb.
Lamb was one of three people convicted in the fatal shooting of Leamon Grady, who was robbed and found dead in his Raleigh home in 1987. He is serving a life sentence.
"There's people out there who have indicated that the wrong person is in prison for this murder. People who would have knowledge of it," said Christine Mumma, executive director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence.
Read more at WRAL.com. 

Innocence Panel Sets Greg Taylor Free

February 17, 2010— from the Raleigh News and Observer
Three judges voted today to give Greg Taylor his life back.
The judges voted unanimously to undo Taylor's 1993 conviction of murdering Jacquetta Thomas, a prostitute in Southeast Raleigh. Their decision exonerated Taylor and releases him from a term of life in prison.
After the decision was read, Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby walked over to Taylor, shook his hand, and apologized that he had been convicted.
Read more here.


Author John Grisham Speaks in Support of NCCAI

September 29, 2009— from the Associated Press

The Center hosted a fundraiser with keynote speaker John Grisham, best-selling author and advocate for Innocence Projects®. Dwayne Dail and Darryl Hunt, North Carolina exonerees who each served more than eighteen years for crimes they did not commit, also spoke at the event. Area law firms, McGuire Woods and Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton were lead sponsors of the event.
Read more here.

Wrongly Convicted Man Ready to Live Life

August 29, 2007— from the Raleigh News and Observer
After 18 years living inside a prison cell, Dwayne Allen Dail's must-do list read like the menu of a country kitchen.
Pork chops for Tuesday dinner at his brother's. Country ham and gravy for breakfast today. His mom promised to make him a peanut butter and molasses sandwich for a snack.
Dail, 39, left his youth behind in prison, paying for another man's crime. Dail was 19, a day laborer and an aspiring rock singer when Goldsboro police arrested him on charges of raping a 12-year-old girl after breaking into her home.
Monday, DNA evidence extracted from the girl's nightgown, forgotten since the night of her rape nearly two decades ago, proved what Dail had sworn all these years: He was innocent.
Read more at the Raleigh News and Observer.
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