Another Death Row Inmate Found Innocent

DNA has freed another inmate on death row--this time in Louisiana. Ryan Matthews was sentenced to death as a teenager. After seven years, his claims of innocence have been confirmed:

A man sentenced to death as a teenager was freed Monday by DNA evidence, and said he had been certain from the beginning that he would be vindicated. For more than seven years, Ryan Matthews has said he had nothing to do with the 1997 robbery and murder of a grocer. He said he knew that someday he would be freed.

Jurors were told that no physical evidence linked Matthews to the holdup and murder of Tommy Vanhoose. But two witnesses identified him as the gunman, and a co-defendant, Travis Hayes, told police that he drove the getaway car after Matthews, then 17, shot Vanhoose. Ultimately, DNA found in a ski mask that was tossed from the getaway car was found to match that of Rondell Love, who is serving time for an unrelated killing. In addition, Matthews' lawyers said, other inmates have told investigators that Love bragged about killing Vanhoose.

While the DA has a year to revisit the case, he says the DNA evidence precludes a jury from finding guilt against Matthews beyond a reasonable doubt.

Update: The NCADP reports Matthews is the 115th prisoner freed from death row after being found innocent. From their press release received by email:

Charges were dropped this week against a Louisiana man who spent nearly five years on death row for a crime he did not commit, making him the 115th former death row inmate in the United States to be freed due to actual innocence.

Ryan Matthews is the 7th former death row inmate in Louisiana to be cleared of murder. He is also the state's third African American juvenile proven to be wrongly convicted and sentenced to death.

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