Jury Awards $2.25 Million to Exonerated Inmate

The Earl Washington case stands out in my mind as one of the most egregious wrongful conviction cases. Washington is retarded, and his confession to rape and murder consisted of details supplied by the interrogating officer. While ultimately DNA cleared Washington of involvement in the rape and murder, as Richard Cohen pointed out in this 2001 Washington Post article, the case is less about how he was saved by DNA than how he was almost murdered by police.

Yesterday, a jury awarded Washington $2.25 million in damages from the interrogating cop's estate, finding he had fabricated Washington's confession.

Earl Washington Jr., who came within nine days of being executed, had sued the estate of the state police investigator, Curtis Reese Wilmore, who died in 1994. Jurors awarded Washington damages upon finding that Wilmore deliberately fabricated evidence that led to his conviction and death sentence.

The Innocence Project, which represents Washington in the civil action, will try to get the state of Virginia to pay the awarded damages:

When he engaged in misconduct he did it as an agent of the commonwealth," [Co-director Peter] Neufeld said, adding that the attorney general's office paid powerhouse law firm McGuireWoods to defend Wilmore's estate.

Frontline and the Innocence Project have more on Washington's case.

You can read more about false confession case at the blog, Truth About False Confessions.

For a great book on the Washington case,

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    Re: Jury Awards $2.25 Million to Exonerated Inmate (none / 0) (#1)
    by HK on Sat May 06, 2006 at 11:13:41 AM EST
    Although it is entirely right that Washington is compensated financially, I wonder how far the money will go to make up for his loss of years - and, quite possibly, sanity - on death row. This remains a travesty of justice.

    this is good.

    Re: Jury Awards $2.25 Million to Exonerated Inmate (none / 0) (#3)
    by Lww on Sat May 06, 2006 at 05:43:39 PM EST
    I ain't trying to be smart here....did Mr Washington get to stuff the 2.25 into his pockets? He wasn't frisked by the blow-dried suit types I hope?

    Re: Jury Awards $2.25 Million to Exonerated Inmate (none / 0) (#4)
    by Lww on Sat May 06, 2006 at 05:53:34 PM EST
    I should've been more clear. You know the guys with law degrees on TV or in politics? Or on the back of your yellow pages, with their gold rings and watches, telling everyone they can hit the jackpot? They're my role models.

    Re: Jury Awards $2.25 Million to Exonerated Inmate (none / 0) (#5)
    by Sailor on Sat May 06, 2006 at 08:03:01 PM EST
    LWW, I still don't get your point, could you clarify please?

    Re: Jury Awards $2.25 Million to Exonerated Inmate (none / 0) (#6)
    by jondee on Sat May 06, 2006 at 09:49:17 PM EST
    I think he's talking about that guy that used to be on Law and Order. Whats his name?

    Re: Jury Awards $2.25 Million to Exonerated Inmate (none / 0) (#7)
    by HK on Sun May 07, 2006 at 09:23:00 AM EST
    Just been to my Grandma's house and read an newspaper article she'd saved for me. The article was an extract from the recently published book Back from the Dead by Joan M Cheever about the people who escaped death row when the death penalty was declared unconstitutional in the 1970s. Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee were two such men; they had been convicted in 1963 but had always claimed they were innocent. During the 12 years they were on death row, Pitts campaigned tirelessly for their exoneration while the illiterate Lee had to listen to guards describe to him how a man dies in the electric chair. His cell was just down the hall from the execution chamber. He says he will never forget the hum of the generator, which he called "the sound of death." They spent 12 years each on death row but waited 35 years to receive their cheques for $500,000 and admission from the state of their innocence.
    A Miami Herald reporter described their reactions as identical. Each scanned his cheque for a few moments, then carefully folded the paper and tucked it in a breast pocket. There were no shouts, no cries of joy and no fits of jubilation.