Saturday, May 06, 2006

Justice for Earl Washington in Virginia

A man who was within days of being executed in Virginia for a crime he did not commit, won $2.25 million in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville, Va., the Washington Post reports.

Earl Washington Jr., was convicted of raping and killing Rebecca Williams, 19, of Culpeper in 1984.

The evidence was a bogus "confession," which DNA later proved to have been coerced by then State Police Investigator Curtis Reese Wilmore who is now deceased.

After a two-week trial and six hours of deliberation, the five-woman, four-man jury found that Wilmore deliberately falsified evidence...


Washington's case inspired a 2001 law that gives Virginia inmates who claim innocence the right to seek DNA testing at any time, loosening what was then the toughest rule in the nation on new evidence.

A friend of Howling Latina in the mental health industry had testified at the original trial on behalf of Mr. Washington; according to Dr. Hertz, Washington who has an IQ of 69 had been browbeaten to admit guilt; even though it was clear from his testimony that facts of the crime had been altered several times before Washington eventually got them right.

He didn’t know the first detail about the crime: the race of the victim, the location of the scene or whether witnesses were present. But the cops forced him to admit that he did it, and this "confession" was enough to send him to death row
To Washington's good fortune, Mr. Tough-on-Crime George Allen was still a lowly state legislator and Gov. Douglas Wilder was governor.

Wilder commuted the death sentence to life; and with advanced DNA evidence, Washington was ultimately proven innocent and released from prison in 2000.

DNA shows an alarming rate of inmates are wrongfully convicted; so for all you capital punishment fans, next time you think about the subject, keep the mental image of poor Washington, a black migrant worker with limited mental capacity who was nearly railroaded by an overly ambitious justice system in mind.

(Pictured above with his attorney)

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