• Code Amber Ticker



    Man Declared Innocent After Serving 18 Years In Prison For Murder

    After he was convicted in the 1991 shooting death of a New York teen Fernando Bermudez, 40, was declared an innocent man Thursday. A judge dismissed the murder charges that sent him to prison for 18 years. He is now one step closer to freedom following a hearing in a Manhattan courtroom where Supreme Court Justice John Cataldo threw out the case brought against the then-22-year-old. Prosecutors charged that Bermudez shot and killed 16-year-old named Raymond Blount during a scuffle involving another teen in the Marc Ballroom near Union Square on the morning of Aug. 4 1991. He was later convicted of the crime and has been serving a 23-year-to-life sentence at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. According to Cataldo's 78-page ruling, the case was loaded with several oversights including how one cooperating witness apparently lied in court. Cataldo told a sobbing Bermudez, that he hoped for him a much better future after declaring him an innocent man.

    Jason's Story

    Eight years ago, any concept of a normal life ceased for the Jolkowski family. That is when their 19 year old son, Jason disappeared. Jason Jolkowski would be 28 today and might look like the man shown in this photograph. Kelly and Jim Jolkowski and their other son, Michael, believed at first that Jason would walk through the front door of their Omaha, Nebraska, home at any moment. Now, the news of a body being found causes their hearts to pound. To date the police say their is no evidence of foul play. Nor, they say, do they have any evidence that Jason simply ran away. It is a bona fide mystery. Kelly Jolkowski described her life in an open letter to her missing son a year ago: "We waited and hoped that you'd walk in the door ... and that the whole awful event would be over, but that didn't happen," she wrote. "It feels as if it never may end, and that we may have to wait for our life after this world to see you again."

    The Medill Innocence Project

    The Medill Innocence Project was founded in 1999 at Northwestern University allows undergraduate students to investigate wrongful convictions under the tutelage of Professor David Protess, the Project's director. Upon being freed from death row on February 5, 1999, Anthony Porter embraces Professor David Protess as the students Syandene Rhodes-Pitts, Tom McCann, and Shawn Armbrust watch. Porter was scheduled for execution just 50 hours before his exoneration with evidence which was developed by Protess and his student team. Protess and his students have uncovered and developed evidence that have set free 11 innocent men, five of which were on death row. The Project's work, which has been featured on "Dateline NBC", "60 Minutes", "48 Hours", and the front pages of The New York Times and the Washington Post, has been cited for stimulating a national debate on the death penalty.

    Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan credits the Project's investigations in freeing Anthony Porter (a death row inmate) in 1999, and, in January 2000, helped provide the impetus for his moratorium on the death penalty and his subsequent decision for all death row inmates to be granted clemency before he left office in January 2003. Aaron Patterson was one of the four prisoners whom the Govoner exonerated outright, had, since it's inception, been the subject of the Project's investigations. The exoneration came on the basis of new evidence of his innocence and the guilt of two other men in the crime for which Patterson was accused was developed by Protess and his students. "A system that depends on young journalism students is flawed," Ryan said during his speech which granted the blanket clemency. During his speech he praised Professor Protess for being a teacher who has "poured his heart and soul" into helping his students free innocent men.

    Murder Conviction Thrown Out

    Provience had been in custody since 2000 and was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison in 2001. Nick Cheolas, a third year law student, said that Justice was finally served but it was denied for 9 1/2 years. Cheolas and his classmates at the Innocence Clinic of Michigan interviewed many people who were familiar with the case of Rene Hunter who in 2000 was fatally shot in Detroit in what has been described as a drug related homicide. Provience has always insisted he had no role in his death. A police report that suggested others were responsible was the key piece of new evidence, however that was never shared with Provience's trial lawyer. The mother of a man convicted of another drug relate homicide gave the law students the information. The prosecutor's office also agreed that the conviction should be overturned. Spokeswoman Maria Miller said they don't know why the information did not come out earlier.

    Man Sentenced To Death Row Twice Is Released From Prison

    On October 15th, 2009, a former death row inmate who was sentenced to death row for murder is now out of prison and believed to be back in Burke County. That is the reason the victim's family is worried about their safety and law enforcement is wondering why death row doesn't mean death row. Police Chief John Suttle remembers the murder, back when he worked for the State Bureau of Investigation. "1985," he said, referring to the year it happened. Habitual felon Roland Smith shot R.C. Johnson once in the chest and three times in the back after Johnson walked in on Smith breaking into his building on Highway 70. Johnson rented the building to a man who operated a game room. Suttle also remembers the conviction. "Got the death penalty twice," he said. Marshall Childers says he, too, remembers the conviction. Childers testified against Smith as he witnessed his Uncle's murder. He said he looked Smith in the face after the murder happened.

    Justice 94 Years Too Late

    Tom Joyner, a nationally syndicated radio host, raised his hand in victory. "I hope now they rest in peace," Tom Joyner said of his two great-uncles who were wrongfully executed. Almost a century have passed since his great uncles, Thomas Griffin and Meeks Griffin, were wrongfully convicted and executed in South Carolina. The Parole board recently pardoned both men by a vote of 7-0, clearing them of the 1913 killing of a veteran of the Confederate Army. It marks the first time in history that South Carolina has issued a posthumous pardon in a capital murder case. "It really, really feels good," Joyner stated during an interview on CNN. Joyner made the journey to Columbia, South Carolina, with his wife, his sons, his brother and nieces and nephews. He also stated that they danced, and hugged and kissed when the board announced its decision. It took only about 25 minutes for their pardon, nearly a century in the making. "It's good for the community. It's good for the nation, he said.

    DNA Exonerates Man In 1993 Slaying

    Edwin Chandler Was Exonerated After Evidence, Witnesses Prove He Wasn't At Scene. A miscarriage of justice -- that’s what Judge Frederic Cowan called the imprisonment of an innocent man in the 1993 slaying of a convenience store clerk. Cowan apologized on behalf of the justice system as he exonerated Edwin A. Chandler for the slaying. Chandler served nine years in prison and another five years on parole for the crime. Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney David Stengel said another man, Percy Phillips, was indicted Tuesday in the slaying. Cowan said he could not overstate the significance of the case and reminded those in the courtroom the seriousness with which they should take their jobs. Cowan released Chandler from parole immediately. Upon hearing he was exonerated, Chandler broke down in tears.

    Prior to his erroneous conviction, Chandler had one prior misdemeanor conviction. Originally, witnesses incorrectly identified Chandler as the man in surveillance video from the scene of the crime, when in fact he wasn’t there. The evidence that eventually exonerated Chandler was a beer bottle found on the counter. New technology not available at the time of the crime showed Chandler’s prints weren’t on the bottle. That evidence, along with two new witnesses, including another inmate who claimed Phillips told him he had committed the slaying, cleared Chandler. A deputy used a Taser on Phillips in court in July after he became unruly during a hearing held to determine if he was competent to stand trial on charges of threatening a witness and being a persistent felony offender.

    The Connecticut River Valley Killer

    Into the 1980s there were a lot of serial killers on the loose. Before then the whole concept of serial killers was relatively new. The were especially rare in the Connecticut River Valley. However, in the 1980s a serial killer was on the loose there and the peaceful Valley became a horrifying place to live. Everyone was scared to death. This story is about that serial killer. The police had a prime suspect but before they could even interview him and find out why he did the dreadful things much less nail him, he killed himself and his entire family. So they think the man was the serial killer but they aren't sure. Now only time will tell, which is what makes this story a New England mystery.

    Ten Exonerations

    This is 10 stories of men who have been wrongly accused and finally exonerated after years in prison. Thanks to the innocence project literally houndreds, if not thousands, of men have been exonerated in our justice system. Most of them were exonerated by DNA evidence. Some of the men even confessed falsely. It makes one wonder why so much value is placed on the spoken spoken word in our justice system, especially when there is no evidence to back it up.

    The OJ Simpson Trial Final Report

    A football Legend is accused of double murder. The Los Angeles Police actually had a warrant out for his arrest but couldn't find him until he decided to turn himself in. Who can forget the now infamous slow car chase in which Simpson was sitting in the back of the Bronco with a gun pointed to his head. It's a Hollywood media circus. The American public was just immediately hypnotized for month after month. The case revealed racial divide that remains unhealed more than a decade later. Everyone had completely different opinions as to what the outcome should be. The questions, the answers, this is the story behind the OJ Simpson trial. Did he do it or not? See if you can decipher this true Hollywood mystery.

    more info