Anthony Ray Hinton
Released April 3, 2015
An Alabama jury convicted 29-year-old Anthony Ray Hinton of murdering two fast-food managers in separate incidents in 1985.
The evidence was weak and his defense weaker. The only evidence linking Hinton to the crimes were bullets that allegedly had markings matching a revolver that belonged to Hinton’s mother. There were no fingerprints or eyewitness testimony. After Hinton was convicted, subsequent tests found the bullets at the scene could not be matched to the gun he was accused of using.
But he was sentenced to die. In 2003, a New York Times article wrote, "There are reasons beyond the firearms evidence to doubt Mr. Hinton's guilt. He was at work, several people testified, when the third shooting happened. The car he was said to have driven on the night of the third shooting had been repossessed months before. The restaurant robberies continued after his arrest." (NYT article)
Hinton's court-appointed lawyer had spent only $1000 on an expert witness whose testimony was so weak he could not answer basic questions. Alabama law provides reimbursement for any reasonable defense expenses.
On February 24, 2014, through the efforts of the Equal Justice Initiative group, the US Supreme Court declared that "the criminal (Hinton) defendant's Sixth Amendment right to counsel is violated if his trial attorney's performance falls below an objective standard or reasonableness and if there is a reasonable probability that the result of the trial would have been different." (full text of Supreme Court decision)
According to the EJI site, "The Equal Justice Initiative is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system."
The site also states that, "3170 people in the United States currently are under a death sentence. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, 1314 men, women, children, and mentally ill people have been shot, hanged, asphyxiated, lethally injected, and electrocuted by States and the federal government."
Anthony Ray Hinton
On April 3, 2015, Anthony Ray Hinton was freed after EJI and its experts undermined the Alabama's case.
ABC News report:
- Reference >>> Democracy Now interview
- Reference >>> Equal Justice Initiative site
- Reference >>> How Hinton survived his years on death row