Judge Throws Out Last Piece of Evidence Against Tennessee Man

Michael Lee McCormick has been on Tennessee's death row for 17 years, but a recent court decision throwing out the remaining evidence against him could result in his freedom. Judge Doug Meyer ruled that tapes containing conversations between McCormick and an undercover police officer who had befriended him were inadmissible due to "police misconduct." Meyer noted that McCormick, who is an alcoholic, had continually denied his involvement in the crime "until the authorities made him dependent upon them for his alcohol. Under all these circumstances, it is clear that the crucial motivating factor behind the defendant's statements were the police misconduct in question." The ruling went on to state that Chattanooga Police "conspired with the Georgia parole officer to place the known alcoholic defendant in a manipulative living situation." The state had mainly convicted McCormick based on a hair found on the victim that was linked to him and on the recorded statements thrown out by Meyer's ruling. The DNA evidence was previously discredited because more sophisticated testing found that the hair did not come from McCormick. McCormick remains in prison awaiting a court ruling on the prosecution's appeal involving the loss of the last key piece of evidence in the case. (The Chattanoogan, October 13, 2003). See Innocence.