Donnis Musgrove
Alabama: Conviction, 1988; Died on Death Row, 2015
David Rogers
Alabama: Conviction, 1988; Died on Death Row, 2004

Donnis Musgrove (pictured) died of lung cancer on Alabama’s death row on November 25, while his case—which included a substantial claim of innocence—was pending before a federal judge. Musgrove’s attorneys had asked U.S. District Judge David Proctor to rule quickly because of Musgrove’s medical condition.

Musgrove and his co-defendant, David Rogers, who previously died on Alabama’s death row, were sentenced to death in 1988. Rogers’ lawyer, Tommy Nail—a state court judge at the time of Musgrove’s death—said he believed Musgrove and Rogers “got a raw deal and I’ve always felt they were not guilty of this offense.”

Nail said the case shared “eerie” similarities with that of death row exoneree Anthony Ray Hinton: both cases were tried by the same prosecutor before the same judge, and the prosecution presented questionable weapons testimony from the same ballistics expert. The ballistics testimony in Hinton’s case was contradicted by three other ballistics experts, and prosecutors decided not to retry him after saying they could not link the bullets from the crime to a gun that belonged to Hinton. The defendants in both cases also presented solid alibi evidence, Nail said.

Musgrove’s attorneys argued that, in addition to similarly unreliable ballistics testimony, Musgrove’s conviction was tainted by falsified eyewitness testimony, prosecutorial misconduct, and false testimony by a jailhouse informant who later recanted. Musgrove’s attorney, Cissy Jackson, said “It was a privilege to know and represent Donnis. My husband and I have been working for his release since 1997, and we are so sorry that he did not live to be exonerated.”

Read: Attorney: Alabama Inmate Seeking Freedom From Death Row Dies, Associated Press, November 26, 2015.
Read: Kent Faulk, Attorney: Alabama Death Row inmate dies in prison,, November 27, 2015.
Read: Alabama judge: Death Row inmate got ‘raw deal,’ was wrongly convicted, Associated Press, May 30, 2015.
Read: Jay Reeves, Alabama death row inmate: Another innocent man?, Associated Press, April 25, 2015.