Innocence: List of Those Freed From Death Row

 

Last exoneration November 5, 2018 (#164)
 
For Inclusion on DPIC's Innocence List:
 
Defendants must have been convicted, sentenced to death and subsequently either-
 
a. Been acquitted of all charges related to the crime that placed them on death row, or

b. Had all charges related to the crime that placed them on death row dismissed by the prosecution or the courts, or

c. Been granted a complete pardon based on evidence of innocence.


For a fuller description of the criteria used in this list and the reasons why these criteria were chosen, see Section V of DPIC's most recent Innocence Report.  See also an excerpt below from an article in the Baltimore Sun by Dan Rodricks regarding the use of the term "exonerated."

The list includes cases in which the release occurred 1973 or later.

See also DPIC's Innocence Database -Searchable database of all exonerations since 1973 - allows you to search and sort for cases by year, state, race, and other variables.

NR* Name State Race Year Convicted Year Exonerated Years Between Reason DNA**
1 David Keaton FL Black 1971 1973 2 Charges Dismissed  
2 Samuel A. Poole NC Black 1973 1974 1 Charges Dismissed  
3 Wilbert Lee FL Black 1963 1975 12 Pardoned  
4 Freddie Pitts FL Black 1963 1975 12 Pardoned  
5 James Creamer GA White 1973 1975 2 Charges Dismissed  
6 Christopher Spicer NC Black 1973 1975 2 Acquitted  
7 Thomas Gladish NM White 1974 1976 2 Charges Dismissed  
8 Richard Greer NM White 1974 1976 2 Charges Dismissed  
9 Ronald Keine NM White 1974 1976 2 Charges Dismissed  
10 Clarence Smith NM White 1974 1976 2 Charges Dismissed  
11 Delbert Tibbs FL Black 1974 1977 3 Charges Dismissed  
12 Earl Charles GA Black 1975 1978 3 Charges Dismissed  
13 Jonathan Treadway AZ White 1975 1978 3 Acquitted  
14 Gary Beeman OH White 1976 1979 3 Acquitted  
15 Jerry Banks GA Black 1975 1980 5 Charges Dismissed  
16 Larry Hicks IN Black 1978 1980 2 Acquitted  
17 Charles Ray Giddens OK Black 1978 1981 3 Charges Dismissed  
18 Michael Linder SC White 1979 1981 2 Acquitted  
19 Johnny Ross LA Black 1975 1981 6 Charges Dismissed  
20 Ernest (Shujaa) Graham CA Black 1976 1981 5 Acquitted  
21 Annibal Jaramillo FL Latino 1981 1982 1 Charges Dismissed  
22 Lawyer Johnson MA Black 1971 1982 11 Charges Dismissed  
23 Larry Fisher MS White 1984 1985 1 Acquitted  
24 Anthony Brown FL Black 1983 1986 3 Acquitted  
25 Neil Ferber PA White 1982 1986 4 Charges Dismissed  
26 Clifford Henry Bowen OK White 1981 1986 5 Charges Dismissed  
27 Joseph Green Brown FL Black 1974 1987 13 Charges Dismissed  
28 Perry Cobb IL Black 1979 1987 8 Acquitted  
29 Darby (Jesse) Tillis IL Black 1979 1987 8 Acquitted  
30 Vernon McManus TX White 1977 1987 10 Charges Dismissed  
31 Anthony Ray Peek FL Black 1978 1987 9 Acquitted  
32 Juan Ramos FL Latino 1983 1987 4 Acquitted  
33 Robert Wallace GA Black 1980 1987 7 Acquitted  
34 Richard Neal Jones OK White 1983 1987 4 Acquitted  
35 Willie Brown FL Black 1983 1988 5 Charges Dismissed  
36 Larry Troy FL Black 1983 1988 5 Charges Dismissed  
37 Randall Dale Adams TX White 1977 1989 12 Charges Dismissed  
38 Robert Cox FL White 1988 1989 1 Charges Dismissed  
39 James Richardson FL Black 1968 1989 21 Charges Dismissed  
40 Clarence Brandley TX Black 1981 1990 9 Charges Dismissed  
41 John C. Skelton TX White 1983 1990 7 Acquitted  
42 Dale Johnston OH White 1984 1990 6 Charges Dismissed  
43 Jimmy Lee Mathers AZ White 1987 1990 3 Acquitted  
44 Gary Nelson GA Black 1980 1991 11 Charges Dismissed  
45 Bradley P. Scott FL White 1988 1991 3 Acquitted  
46 Charles Smith IN Black 1983 1991 8 Acquitted  
47 Jay C. Smith PA White 1986 1992 6 Acquitted  
48 Kirk Bloodsworth MD White 1984 1993 9 Charges Dismissed Yes
49 Federico M. Macias TX Latino 1984 1993 9 Charges Dismissed  
50 Walter McMillian AL Black 1988 1993 5 Charges Dismissed  
51 Gregory R. Wilhoit OK White 1987 1993 6 Acquitted  
52 James Robison AZ White 1977 1993 16 Acquitted  
53 Muneer Deeb TX Other 1985 1993 8 Acquitted  
54 Andrew Golden FL White 1991 1994 3 Charges Dismissed  
55 Adolph Munson OK Black 1985 1995 10 Acquitted  
56 Robert Charles Cruz AZ Latino 1981 1995 14 Acquitted  
57 Rolando Cruz IL Latino 1985 1995 10 Acquitted Yes
58 Alejandro Hernandez IL Latino 1985 1995 10 Charges Dismissed Yes
59 Sabrina Butler MS Black 1990 1995 5 Acquitted  
60 Joseph Burrows IL White 1989 1996 7 Charges Dismissed  
61 Verneal Jimerson IL Black 1985 1996 11 Charges Dismissed Yes
62 Dennis Williams IL Black 1979 1996 17 Charges Dismissed Yes
63 Roberto Miranda NV Latino 1982 1996 14 Charges Dismissed  
64 Gary Gauger IL White 1993 1996 3 Charges Dismissed  
65 Troy Lee Jones CA Black 1982 1996 14 Charges Dismissed  
66 Carl Lawson IL Black 1990 1996 6 Acquitted  
67 David Wayne Grannis AZ White 1991 1996 5 Charges Dismissed  
68 Ricardo Aldape Guerra TX Latino 1982 1997 15 Charges Dismissed  
69 Benjamin Harris WA Black 1985 1997 12 Charges Dismissed  
70 Robert Hayes FL Black 1991 1997 6 Acquitted  
71 Christopher McCrimmon AZ Black 1993 1997 4 Acquitted  
72 Randal Padgett AL White 1992 1997 5 Acquitted  
73 Robert Lee Miller, Jr. OK Black 1988 1998 10 Charges Dismissed Yes
74 Curtis Kyles LA Black 1984 1998 14 Charges Dismissed  
75 Shareef Cousin LA Black 1996 1999 3 Charges Dismissed  
76 Anthony Porter IL Black 1983 1999 16 Charges Dismissed  
77 Steven Smith IL Black 1985 1999 14 Acquitted  
78 Ronald Williamson OK White 1988 1999 11 Charges Dismissed Yes
79 Ronald Jones IL Black 1989 1999 10 Charges Dismissed Yes
80 Clarence Dexter, Jr. MO White 1991 1999 8 Charges Dismissed  
81 Warren Douglas Manning SC Black 1989 1999 10 Acquitted  
82 Alfred Rivera NC Latino 1997 1999 2 Charges Dismissed  
83 Steve Manning IL White 1993 2000 7 Charges Dismissed  
84 Eric Clemmons MO Black 1987 2000 13 Acquitted  
85 Joseph Nahume Green FL Black 1993 2000 7 Charges Dismissed  
86 Earl Washington VA Black 1984 2000 16 Pardoned Yes
87 William Nieves PA Latino 1994 2000 6 Acquitted  
88 Frank Lee Smith - died prior to exoneration FL Black 1986 2000 ** 14 Charges Dismissed Yes
89 Michael Graham LA White 1987 2000 13 Charges Dismissed  
90 Albert Burrell LA White 1987 2000 13 Charges Dismissed  
91 Oscar Lee Morris CA Black 1983 2000 17 Charges Dismissed  
92 Peter Limone MA White 1968 2001 33 Charges Dismissed  
93 Gary Drinkard AL White 1995 2001 6 Charges Dismissed  
94 Joaquin Jose Martinez FL Latino 1997 2001 4 Acquitted  
95 Jeremy Sheets NE White 1997 2001 4 Charges Dismissed  
96 Charles Fain ID White 1983 2001 18 Charges Dismissed Yes
97 Juan Roberto Melendez FL Latino 1984 2002 18 Charges Dismissed  
98 Ray Krone AZ White 1992 2002 10 Charges Dismissed Yes
99 Thomas Kimbell, Jr. PA White 1998 2002 4 Acquitted  
100 Larry Osborne KY White 1999 2002 3 Charges Dismissed  
101 Aaron Patterson IL Black 1986 2003 17 Pardoned  
102 Madison Hobley IL Black 1987 2003 16 Pardoned  
103 Leroy Orange IL Black 1984 2003 19 Pardoned  
104 Stanley Howard IL Black 1987 2003 16 Pardoned  
105 Rudolph Holton FL Black 1986 2003 16 Charges Dismissed  
106 Lemuel Prion AZ White 1999 2003 4 Charges Dismissed  
107 Wesley Quick AL White 1997 2003 6 Acquitted  
108 John Thompson LA Black 1985 2003 18 Acquitted  
109 Timothy Howard OH Black 1976 2003 26 Charges Dismissed  
110 Gary Lamar James OH Black 1976 2003 26 Charges Dismissed  
111 Joseph Amrine MO Black 1986 2003 17 Charges Dismissed  
112 Nicholas Yarris PA White 1982 2003 21 Charges Dismissed Yes
113 Alan Gell NC White 1998 2004 6 Acquitted  
114 Gordon Steidl IL White 1987 2004 17 Charges Dismissed  
115 Laurence Adams MA Black 1974 2004 30 Charges Dismissed  
116 Dan L. Bright LA Black 1996 2004 8 Charges Dismissed  
117 Ryan Matthews LA Black 1999 2004 5 Charges Dismissed Yes
118 Ernest Ray Willis TX White 1987 2004 17 Charges Dismissed  
119 Derrick Jamison OH Black 1985 2005 20 Charges Dismissed  
120 Patrick Croy CA Native American 1979 2005 26 Acquitted of murder charges,
non-capital conviction later vacated
 
121 Harold Wilson PA Black 1989 2005 16 Acquitted  
122 John Ballard FL White 2003 2006 3 Acquitted  
123 Curtis McCarty OK White 1986 2007 21 Charges Dismissed Yes
124 Michael McCormick TN White 1987 2007 20 Acquitted  
125 Jonathon Hoffman NC Black 1995 2007 12 Charges Dismissed  
126 Kennedy Brewer MS Black 1995 2008 13 Charges Dismissed Yes
127 Glen Chapman NC Black 1994 2008 14 Charges Dismissed  
128 Levon Jones NC Black 1993 2008 15 Charges Dismissed  
129 Michael Blair TX Other 1994 2008 14 Charges Dismissed Yes
130 Nathson Fields IL Black 1986 2009 23 Acquitted  
131 Paul House TN White 1986 2009 23 Charges Dismissed  
132 Daniel Wade Moore AL White 2002 2009 7 Acquitted  
133 Ronald Kitchen IL Black 1988 2009 21 Charges Dismissed  
134 Herman Lindsey FL Black 2006 2009 3 Acquitted  
135 Michael Toney TX White 1999 2009 10 Charges Dismissed  
136 Yancy Douglas OK Black 1995 2009 14 Charges Dismissed  
137 Paris Powell OK Black 1997 2009 12 Charges Dismissed  
138 Robert Springsteen TX White 2001 2009 8 Charges Dismissed  
139 Anthony Graves TX Black 1994 2010 16 Charges Dismissed  
140 Gussie Vann TN White 1994 2011 17 Charges Dismissed  
141 Joe D'Ambrosio OH White 1989 2012 23 Charges Dismissed  
142 Damon Thibodeaux LA White 1997 2012 15 Charges Dismissed Yes
143 Seth Penalver FL White 1999 2012 13 Acquitted  
144 Reginald Griffin MO Black 1983 2013 30 Charges Dismissed  
145 Glenn Ford LA Black 1984 2014 30 Charges Dismissed  
146 Carl Dausch FL White 2011 2014 3 Acquitted  
147 Henry McCollum NC Black 1984 2014 30 Charges Dismissed Yes
148 Leon Brown NC Black 1984 2014 30 Charges Dismissed Yes
149 Ricky Jackson OH Black 1975 2014 39 Charges Dismissed  
150 Wiley Bridgeman OH Black 1975 2014 39 Charges Dismissed  
151 Kwame Ajamu OH Black 1975 2014 39 Charges Dismissed  
152 Debra Milke AZ White 1990 2015 25 Charges Dismissed  
153 Anthony Hinton AL Black 1985 2015 30 Charges Dismissed  
154 Willie Manning MS Black 1996 2015 19 Charges Dismissed  
155 Alfred Brown TX Black 2005 2015 10 Charges Dismissed  
156 Lawrence William Lee GA White 1987 2015 28 Charges Dismissed  
157 Derral Wayne Hodgkins FL White 2013 2015 2 Acquitted  
158 Isaiah McCoy DE Black 2012 2017 4 Acquitted  
159 Rodricus Crawford LA Black 2012 2017 5 Charges Dismissed  
160 Ralph Daniel Wright, Jr. FL Black 2014 2017 3 Acquitted  
161 Rickey Dale Newman AR White 2002 2017 16 Charges Dismissed  
162 Gabriel Solache IL Latino 2000 2017 17 Charges Dismissed  
163 Vicente Benavides CA Latino 1993 2018 25 Charges Dismissed  
164 Clemente Javier Aguirre FL Latino 2006 2018 12 Charges Dismissed  

Note: James Bo Cochran (AL) and Timothy Hennis (NC) were originally on this list but are excluded following further research and developments.

Average number of years between being sentenced to death and exoneration: 11.3 years

Number of cases in which DNA was a substantial factor in establishing innocence: 21

*The list is ordered by the date of exoneration and release. Occasionally, we will learn of an exoneration that occurred years earlier — typically when a wrongly convicted prisoner obtained relief from his death sentence on one date and was exonerated after his or her release from death row. Thus, the number assigned to a person above may differ from his or her number in some previously published DPIC reports.

**DPIC refers to the Innocence Project's (Cardozo Law School, NY) criteria for whether a post-conviction exoneration was the result of DNA testing.

The Innocence Project requires that both:

a) DNA testing played a role in the defendant's reversal, AND
b) the results of the testing were central to the inmate's defense and to the identity of the perpetrator.
 
Sources: DPIC uses a number of resources when adding cases to the above list, including court opinions, media coverage, and conversations with those directly involved in the cases. The earlier cases in the list are based heavily on the research of Hugo Adam Bedau and Michael L. Radelet. (See, e.g., Hugo Bedau and Michael Radelet, "Miscarriages of justice in potentially capital cases," 40 Stanford Law Review 21 (1987); M.Radelet, H. Bedau, and C. Putnam, In Spite of Innocence, Northeastern University Press (1992); see also M. Radelet et al., "Prisoners released from death rows since 1970 because of doubts about their guilt," 13 Thomas M. Cooley Law Review 907 (1996)).

 

Use of the term "exonerated": Columnist Dan Rodricks of the Baltimore Sun asked DPIC about its list of exonerated individuals.  DPIC's then-Executive Director Richard Dieter responded, and that response was reprinted in Mr. Rodricks' column, July 5, 2009:

With respect to your question about our list of exonerated individuals, we use very strict and objective criteria for inclusion of cases on this list. Basically, the list is determined by the decisions of courts and prosecutor offices, not by our subjective judgment. As we state in a number of places on our Web site and in our reports, the criteria for inclusion on the list is:

Defendants must have been convicted, sentenced to death and subsequently either- a) their conviction was overturned AND

i) they were acquitted at re-trial or

ii) all charges were dropped

b) they were given an absolute pardon by the governor based on new evidence of innocence.

The list includes cases where the release occurred in 1973 or later, which was the time that states resumed sentencing people to death after the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down the death penalty. The list originated from a request from Congress asking us to identify the risks that innocent people might be executed. The original list that we prepared was published as a Staff Report of the House Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights. The list has been favorably referred to by Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts, as well as by many public officials around the country.

We believe the term "exonerated" is entirely appropriate to refer to the individuals on this list, which now numbers [159] individuals. Exonerate means to clear, as of an accusation, and seems to come from the Latin "ex" and "onus" meaning to unburden. That is precisely what has occurred in these cases. The defendants were convicted, given a burden of guilt, and then that burden was lifted when they were acquitted at a re-trial or the prosecution dropped all charges after the conviction was reversed. These are not individuals who received a lesser sentence or who remained guilty of a lesser charge related to the same set of circumstances. All guilt was lifted by the same system that had imposed it in the first place. Our justice system is the only objective source for making such a determination.

This notion of innocence, that an individual is innocent unless proven guilty, is a bedrock principle of our constitution and our societal protection against abusive state power. One does not lose the status of innocence merely because a prosecutor or other individuals retain a suspicion of guilt. Of course, it is true that this list makes no god-like determination of knowing exactly what happened in the original crime. Such perfect knowledge of past events is impossible, either to absolutely prove that a person did or did not do an act. We do not try to make a subjective judgment of what we think happened in the crime. We are merely reporting that in a great many cases the justice system convicted an individual and sentenced them to death, but when the process that arrived at that conclusion was reviewed, the conviction and sentence were thrown out. The individual, who often came close to execution, could not even be convicted of a traffic violation. Surely, that should be a cause of concern in applying the death penalty.

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