PA. Death Row Exoneree to Get $4 Million

Nick Yarris, released from jail four years ago after spending 22 years in prison having been sentenced to death for a murder he didn't commit, has settled his wrongful conviction case against Delaware County, PA for $4 million.

The settlement was the result of a malicious-prosecution lawsuit Yarris filed in 2004 against Delaware County and the law enforcement officials who investigated and prosecuted him, and it came as the case was moving closer to trial in U.S. District Court.

[His lawyer John] Beavers said county representatives agreed to inform the family of murder victim Linda Mae Craig that "no probable cause existed to believe Nick Yarris had anything to do with her death."

Yarris now lives in London where he is a stay at home dad to his 21 month old daughter.[More...]

As to his lawsuit,

He contended that officials in the Delaware County District Attorney's Office withheld key evidence during the trial and later sought to sabotage his bid for DNA testing.

The suit contended that a pair of men's gloves found in Craig's car was withheld from his defense team, even though the prosecution believed they belonged to the murderer. When the gloves were finally analyzed, the tests found nothing that matched Yarris' DNA. In addition, DNA evidence recovered from Craig's body also showed that Yarris was not the rapist or killer.

Yarris was represented in his habeas appeal by Peter Goldberger of Ardmore, PA. Here's more on the DNA findings and his release from prison. As Peter noted, neither the D.A. nor the Judge offered a kind word or an apology upon his release.

TalkLeft has written many posts about Yarris, including his allegations of abuse against Charles Graner, a Pennsylvania prison guard who went on to abuse prisoners at Abu Ghraib. All of the posts are accessible here.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Good on him! (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 11:11:18 AM EST
    And that (former) ADA deserves all the scorn he gets - not only did he violate the defendant's rights, but he's a sore loser, too.

    But, more sadly, I suppose Yarris had to move to England, if only to get away from the likelihood that the Pa. police, having been thwarted by his innocence, would try again to hang something on him.

    did they inform the victims family (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jen M on Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 11:41:14 AM EST
    that they didn't care who was the rapist or killer -- and likely never did?

    gee, i'm stunned! (none / 0) (#3)
    by cpinva on Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 03:05:17 PM EST
    As Peter noted, neither the D.A. nor the Judge offered a kind word or an apology upon his release.

    why would they? after all, these people made them look bad in public. could well have an adverse impact on their future earning power.

    i started out to make a really snarky comment. i find, however, as more of these cases come to light, i just don't have it in me anymore.

    more and more, it's becoming apparent that judges, juries, prosecutors and police are predisposed towards guilt: if we arrested you, you must be guilty; if the police arrested you, you must be guilty; if the prosectur's prosecuting you, you must be guilty; if the jury found you guilty, it must be so.

    while i realize this was something of a special case, involving malicious prosecution, most of these exoneration cases aren't. they are good faith cases, brought by honest prosecutors, relying on honest police work, heard by honest judges, and well meaning, honest juries.

    that makes it all the more scary.

    Sad & Angry (none / 0) (#4)
    by BDB on Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 05:08:17 PM EST
    These cases always make me sad.  They're tragic all the way around.  Tragic for the man who spent so many years wrongly behind bars.  Tragic for the victim, too, since it means the person who really committed the crime went free and possibly hurt someone else.  

    The Court system is run by humans and humans are, by definition, fallible.  So mistakes are bound to occur.  When they do, as I said, it's very sad.

    However, it makes me angry when the mistakes are not simply human error, but misconduct by those entrusted to represent the people.  It's not in the people's interest to send innocent men and women to jail.  As someone with a law enforcement background, I'm always amazed that anyone could think otherwise.  Or perhaps they weren't interested in serving the people, just their own ambition.

    Like I said, sad and angry.  The only good news is that it sounds like Mr. Yarris has managed to put his life back together.  Good for him.

    Nicholas Yarris (none / 0) (#5)
    by lc on Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 09:57:48 AM EST
    Nicholas Yarris became a suspect by claiming to have information about Linda Craig's rape and murder, information he was willing to trade for a lighter sentence on the crime he was being held in lieu of bail on.  Yarris identified an acquaintance as having confessed to these crimes.  Fortunately for that man, he was at work and had an alibi.  The wrongfully convicted Yarris was quite willing to finger an innocent man.

    Thanks to the once meth-addled Nicholas Yarris, Linda Craig's three children will probably never know who killed their mother.  He can stay in England.  

    RE Nicholas Yarris (none / 0) (#6)
    by nobs on Mon May 30, 2011 at 04:52:26 AM EST
    What??  Regardless of Yarris' false meth-withdrawal-induced claim to have information pertaining to Linda Craig's rape and murder, and that he identified an acquaintance (that he thought had already overdosed and died) as the perp, how is it his fault that her children will not know the identity of her rapist/murderer?

    I agree that his false id of another innocent man was dead wrong, but the facts show that he was innocent of that crime.  Don't these cases illuminate precisely this issue that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution?  Further, the point of our judicial system is to prosecute the correct person, not just any person, so that they may pay their debt to our society.  The next step for the courtroom spitting D.A. was to find the murderer.

    To me, it seemed like the police and D.A. had a presupposition to which they fit their "facts" in order to produce a conviction.  

    With cases like this, we should all move to England.