Is the Wrong Man on Death Row?
Jeffrey Toobin, writing for the January 17, 2005 New Yorker, has a long article on Arizona death row inmate Martin Soto-Fong, and asks whether former prosecutor Kenneth Peasly put the wrong man on death row (pdf)? Soto-Fong was 17 at the time of the crime. The article is not available at the New Yorker site, but the Federal Defender's office in Arizona has put up a copy.
Last year, Peasley acquired another distinction: he was isbarred for intentionally presenting false evidence in death-penalty cases—something that had never before happened to an American prosecutor. In a 1992 triple-murder case, Peasley introduced testimony that he knew to be false; three men were convicted and sentenced to die. Peasley was convinced that the three were guilty, but he also believed that the evidence needed a push.
...According to the Death Penalty Information Center, since the mid-nineteen-seventies a hundred and seventeen death-row inmates have been released. Defense lawyers, often relying on DNA testing, have shown repeatedly how shoddy crime-lab work, lying informants, and mistaken eyewitness identifications, among other factors, led to unjust convictions.But DNA tests don’t reveal how innocent people come to be prosecuted in the first place. The career of Kenneth Peasley does.
Read the whole thing, it's fascinating and Toobin doesa great job telling the story. Peasly, now disbarred, is working as a paralegal. He can apply to get his license back in four years. Soto-Fong remains on death row.
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