Rank #1: S7E1: Kim Kardashian West & Jason Flom Join Forces to Advocate for Criminal Justice Reform and Clemency
Kim Kardashian West first heard about Alice Marie Johnson through a short video about Johnson’s life behind bars on Twitter. Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old-great-grandmother, was given a life sentence for a first-time-nonviolent-drug-related crime and was not eligible for parole. At the time, Johnson had already been in prison for 21 years. Kardashian West retweeted that video from Mic.com saying “This is so unfair” on October 25, 2017. That single tweet and Johnson’s story moved Kardashian West and ignited a passion in her for criminal justice reform. It became her mission to help free Johnson and reunite her with the family she missed so much. Kardashian West’s journey took her to the White House where she personally petitioned for a pardon of Johnson’s criminal offenses and on June 6, 2018, President Donald Trump granted clemency to Alice Marie Johnson. In this special edition of Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom, Kardashian West discusses her commitment to criminal justice reform and how she plans to continue using her voice to advocate on behalf of those behind bars.
Rank #2: S1E1: Raymond Santana: The Central Park Jogger Case
Episode 1 features an interview with Raymond Santana, who served 7 years in prison after being falsely accused of the rape and brutal beating of the Central Park Jogger in 1989.
Rank #3: S8E12: The Devil Made Them Do It: Joe Berlinger’s Quest for Justice
In the late 80’s and early 90’s, the US found itself wrapped up in the “Satanic Panic” - a general state of fear revolving around Satanism and satanic ritual, real or imagined. On May 5th, 1993, three 8 year old boys - Steven Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers - were reported missing. Their lifeless bodies were found the following day in a Robin Hood Hills creek, naked and hogtied. Christopher Byers had suffered lacerations, and his genitals had been mutilated. Details of the bizarre and brutal scene in Robin Hood Hills brought Satanic Panic to a fever pitch in the largely conservative Christian city of West Memphis, Arkansas.
Coming off their first film success with “Brother’s Keeper,” documentarians Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky were tapped by HBO documentaries to head down to get the story. Joe Berlinger sits with Jason and recalls his experience of the case, the moments that inspired his fight for criminal justice reform, and the films and events that have helped shape public opinion of wrongful convictions.
Rank #4: S8E1: Did a Fatal Attraction Lead to a Wrongful Conviction? The Story of Jens Soering
Jens Soering is serving two consecutive life terms for a case of double homicide, the murders of Derek and Nancy Haysom in 1985–a crime he says he did not commit. On June 8, 1986, Jens Soering, the son of a former German diplomat Jens Soering falsely confessed to killing Haysoms. He also told police he cut his hand in the process. Soering "took the rap" for his girlfriend, Elizabeth Haysom, to save her from the death penalty for killing her parents.
At Soering's trial, prosecutor Jim Updike told the jury that Soering's confession was corroborated by several drops of type O blood at the crime scene. Soering had type O, none of the other people involved in the crime did, so the blood had to be his. Updike repeated this claim 26 times. A comparison of lab reports showed that DNA tests had eliminated Jens Soering as a possible source of the type O blood at the scene. The same blood that in 1990 suggested his guilt now proved his innocence. He could not have cut his hand while killing the Haysoms, as he had "confessed" in 1986, because the type O blood had a different genetic profile than his. Another (unknown) man had cut himself and bled at the scene. In 2017 two independent DNA scientists confirmed these findings: Dr. Moses Schanfield of George Washington University and Dr. Thomas McClintock of Liberty University. They also found DNA evidence showing the presence of a second unknown man with type AB blood.
The crime remains unsolved and Jens Soering has remained behind bars for over 32 years.
In this gripping interview with Jens Soering, Jason Flom is joined by novelist John Grisham and Sheriff J.E. "Chip” Harding of Albemarle County, Va, both of whom have advocated on Soering’s behalf.
Rank #5: S1E2: Barry Gibbs: The Mafia Cops Case
Rank #6: S4E9: Noura Jackson: Wrongfully Convicted Of Murdering Her Mother After Prosecutors Withheld Evidence Of Her Innocence
Noura Jackson was egregiously framed and wrongfully convicted of murdering her mother, Jennifer Jackson, in Memphis, TN in 2005. Amazingly she spent over three years in jail awaiting trial before being sentenced to 20 years and nine months in prison. No physical evidence linked Ms. Jackson to the murder, and DNA testing not only excluded her as a suspect, but it also suggested that two or three different people were present at the crime scene. The Supreme Court of Tennessee overturned her conviction, unanimously in 2014, and in their 5-0 decision they made strong statements about the misconduct that took place during her trial. The prosecutors threatened to retry Ms. Jackson, and she was faced with little choice but to accept an Alford Plea in 2015. Noura Jackson was then sent back to prison for 15 months before she was finally released in 2016, after serving 11 years in prison. She is joined by one of her lawyers, Bryce Benjet, Senior Staff Attorney at the Innocence Project, in this episode.
Rank #7: S2E1: The Wrongful Conviction of Amanda Knox
Rank #8: S3E1: Confess Or Die: Beating A False Confession Into Johnny Hincapie For The Murder Of A Hero
Rank #9: S7E16: Jeffrey Deskovic: A 10th Grade Student Forced By Detectives To Make A False Confession And Freed By DNA Evidence 16 Years Later
In 1990, Jeffrey Deskovic was wrongfully convicted of the brutal rape and murder of his 15-year-old classmate, Angela Correa. Mr. Deskovic was only 16 at the time of the crime with no prior record. Police claimed that Mr. Deskovic was overly upset at the victim’s funeral and were certain they had their man. They interrogated him for over seven and a half hours, without his mother or legal counsel present. After browbeating and intimidating him, they ultimately extracted a false confession after promising that he could go home after he confessed. He had also been told that if his DNA did not match the semen in the rape kit, he would be cleared as a suspect. In January 1991, Jeffrey Deskovic was convicted by jury of 1st degree rape and 2nd degree murder, despite DNA results showing that he was not the source of semen in the victim’s rape kit. He was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. In 2006, post-conviction DNA testing done by the Innocence Project both proved Mr. Deskovic's innocence and identified the real perpetrator, convicted murderer Steven Cunningham, who subsequently confessed to the crime. On November 2nd, 2006, Jeffrey Deskovic’s indictment was dismissed on grounds of actual innocence and he was released after serving 16 years in prison. Since his release, he has started The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice, which investigates wrongful conviction cases and provides support for exonerees once they are released.
For additional information:
Jeffrey Deskovic: https://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.deskovic
The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation: https://www.facebook.com/thejeffreydeskovicfoundation/
Rank #10: S4E10: Michelle Murphy: A Teenage Mother Wrongfully Convicted and Sentenced To Life For The Murder Of Her Baby
On September 12th, 1994, 17-year-old Michelle Murphy found her 15-week-old son stabbed to death in her kitchen. After being questioned without a parent or guardian present, which was prohibited under Oklahoma law, Michelle Murphy falsely confessed to the crime. Her 14-year-old neighbor William Lee testified during the preliminary hearing that he had walked around her house that evening and reportedly saw Ms. Murphy with the dead infant but did not report it to the police. Testing of blood at the scene of the crime excluded Michelle Murphy as a suspect, but at trial prosecution falsely implied that it matched Ms. Murphy’s blood type. In 1995, Michelle Murphy was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. She was forced to give her only living child up for adoption, daughter Michelle. In 2014, the Innocence Project joined Murphy’s defense team and conducted more DNA testing, yielding results that the bloodstains at the crime scene revealed that there was an unidentified male present that night. On September 12th, 2014, Michelle Murphy was declared innocent, after having spent 20 years behind bars.
Facebook: Rising Phoenix
Twitter: Michelle @Michell09969236
Rank #11: S4E1: Wrongful Conviction Behind Bars: Lamonte McIntyre Tells His Terrifying Story Of Being Framed By A Dirty Cop and Crushed By A Corrupt System As He Awaits A hearing From Inside Lansing Correctional Facility
For this special edition of Wrongful Conviction Behind Bars, Jason Flom shines a light on the case of Lamonte McIntyre, who is currently serving two life sentences at Lansing Correctional Facility, in advance of his upcoming court date on October 12th, 2017. On the afternoon of April 15th, 1994, two men were sitting in a powder-blue Cadillac in the Quindaro neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas. A man dressed in black ran up to the passenger side, raised a shotgun and fired four rounds in what looked like a drug-related hit, killing the two passengers Doniel Quinn and Donald Ewing. Within six hours of the shooting, police detective Roger Golubski had begun the process of framing Lamonte McIntyre. Mr. McIntyre, who was 17 at the time, was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Even though there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, he was found guilty by a jury after a trial that lasted only three days and sentenced to two consecutive life terms. At trial, the prosecutor did not establish a motive and relied on the testimonies of two eyewitnesses who identified Mr. McIntyre as the shooter. Ruby Mitchell claimed in an initial interview with police that she recognized the attacker and that his name was “Lamonte something” and had previously dated her niece. She stated after the trial that Mr. McIntyre was not the man she was referring to and in a 2011 affidavit, Ruby Mitchell claimed that Golubski had made sexual advances towards her on the day of the crime, causing her to fear he was going to arrest her for solicitation. The other eyewitness who testified for the prosecution, Niko Quinn has since recanted, attesting that she realized that she misidentified McIntyre as soon as she saw him in the courtroom, but that when she told this to the prosecutor, Terra Morehead, Morehead threatened to take away custody of her children. Additional procedural misconduct during Mr. McIntyre’s trial includes an undisclosed sexual relationship between the judge and the prosecutor, Terra Morehead, and the failure to disclose to the defense that there were two witnesses who believed that Mr. McIntyre was not the shooter. Mr. McIntyre’s court-appointed attorney, Gary Long, was on supervised probation at the time of the trial for failing to diligently handle three prior cases. In 1997, he was suspended from legal practice for failure to adequately handle a separate criminal case, and he was disbarred in 1998. Several months after the trial, a juror contacted the prosecutor and stated his misgivings about the verdict. The family of the victims have steadfastly proclaimed their belief in Mr. McIntyre’s innocence. In June 2016, Cheryl Pilate, a Kansas City attorney working with the Centurion Project filed a motion for exoneration after seven years of gathering evidence. The motion to exonerate Mr. McIntyre, who is now 40-years-old and serving time at Lansing Correctional Facility, contains accusations that police detective Roger Golubski pursued sex with women who worked as prostitutes and used drugs. Mr. McIntyre’s lawyers obtained affidavits from several witnesses — including former FBI agent Al Jennerich and two former members of the KCK police department — who say Golubski used his authority and access to drugs to initiate sex with vulnerable black women. Listen to Jason Flom’s explosive interviews with Lamonte McIntyre, his attorney Cheryl Pilate and former FBI agent Al Jennerich as they unravel the case and expose the systematic flaws that led to this miscarriage of justice. An evidentiary hearing is scheduled for October 12th, 2017, at which point the judge will have the option to vacate the conviction or give Mr. McIntyre a new trial.
Rank #12: S4E13: David McCallum With The Men Who Helped Free Him After 29 Years In Prison For A Crime He Didn’t Commit: Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez And Oscar Michelen
David McCallum and Willie Stuckey were both 16 when they were convicted of forcing a 20-year-old man into his Buick Regal at gunpoint in Ozone Park, Queens, killing him with a single gunshot to the head, then leaving his body in Aberdeen Park in Bushwick, Brooklyn. After being beaten by police and coerced into confessing, David McCallum and Willie Stuckey gave brief and contradictory confessions, each pinning the homicide on the other. They both recanted the confessions almost immediately and rejected offers to plead guilty in return for prison sentences of 15 years to life.
On October 27th, 1986, a jury convicted them both of second-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree robbery and criminal use of a weapon, and they were each sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Mr. Stuckey died of a heart attack behind bars 16 years into his sentence in 2001, but Mr. McCallum persevered in trying to clear his name. After exhausting all of his appeals, Mr. McCallum’s attorney, Oscar Michelen approached Brooklyn District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit, and in 2014 District Attorney Ken Thompson's office and the Conviction Review Unit completed their reviews of McCallum's case, finding that there was no DNA evidence, physical evidence or credible testimony to link Mr. McCallum or Mr. Stuckey to the abduction or killing of the victim. On October 15, 2014, David McCallum and the late Willie Stuckey’s convictions were thrown out at DA Thompson’s request, and David McCallum was freed after serving nearly 30 years behind bars.
In this special episode of Wrongful Conviction, Mr. McCallum is joined by Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez as well as attorney Oscar Michelen. Promoted by the late District Attorney Ken Thompson in 2014, Eric Gonzalez successfully guided the launch of several of the late DA Ken Thompson’s key initiatives, including the creation of the Conviction Review Unit, which has vacated over 20 unjust convictions to date and has been held up as a national model for other prosecutors’ offices. DA Gonzalez was sworn in as Acting District Attorney in October of 2016 after the passing of DA Thompson.
Rank #13: S8E11: 132 Years? You Can't Even Live That Long: Messiah Johnson's Fight For His Life
On December 5th, 1997, 2 armed and disguised men robbed a beauty salon and its patrons in Norfolk, Virginia. On December 19th, Messiah Johnson was misidentified as the culprit and arrested. In the absence of any physical evidence and in spite of his corroborated alibi, Messiah Johnson was convicted on 26 counts of armed robbery, abduction, and related gun charges. He was sentenced to 132 years in prison.
On this episode of Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom, Messiah Johnson tells Jason about how his life unraveled and his subsequent fight for freedom.
Messiah is a graphic designer and still lives in Virginia, as he continues to fight to clear his name. You can find him on Instagram @messiahaladar johnson. If you’d like to show him support, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/rc8d4-welcome-home-messiah-johnson
Rank #14: S1E3: The Actual Innocence of Fernando Bermudez
Rank #15: S6E11: Meek Mill: an exclusive interview about his 12 year journey from his wrongful conviction to his righteous activism. With special guest Michael Rubin.
Since his release in April 2018, Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill is using his voice and freedom to fight on behalf of those still behind bars. In this special interview, Mill is joined by his friend and ally Michael Rubin, e-commerce billionaire and co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, to discuss their hopes for criminal justice reform.
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Rank #16: S3E3: Three Trials And Twenty Years Later: Anthony DiPippo Finally Cleared Of A Monster’s Crime
In November 1995, a hunter found the remains of 12-year-old Josette Wright in a wooded area of Putnam County, New York. She was reported to have been hog-tied with her hands and feet tied together behind her back, and her underwear had been shoved down her throat. Her mother had reported her missing on October 4th, 1994, after she failed to return home the night before. Dominic Neglia, who was being investigated for drug charges, claimed that 18-year-old Anthony DiPippo and his friends were responsible for the rape and murder of Josette Wright. Three of the accused teenagers testified against Mr. DiPippo and Andrew Krivak, claiming that they were in Mr. DiPippo’s van when he and Krivak raped and strangled the victim. Mr. DiPippo denied his involvement with the crime, but in 1997 he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. In 2011, Mr. DiPippo was ordered a new trial after it was discovered that his lawyer had also previously represented Howard Gombert, who a witness had reported seeing the victim get into a car driven by Gombert on the day she was last seen. Several other women came forward saying that they had also been sexually molested by Gombert in a similar fashion, with their limbs bound and with clothing stuffed in their mouths. These women were not allowed to testify in Mr. DiPippo’s new trial, nor was Joseph Santoro, who was incarcerated with Gombert and had heard him talk about raping Wright, along with another young girl. Anthony DiPippo was again convicted in 2012, even though two of the three teenagers who had testified against him had recanted their testimonies, claiming that detectives had threated to charge them with the murder if they didn’t implicate Mr. DiPippo and Mr. Krivak. In 2016, Mr. DiPippo was again ordered a new trial, and this time the testimonies of Santoro and the other women who had been assaulted by Gombert were admitted. Additionally, Dominic Neglia recanted his initial accusation against Mr. DiPippo. On October 11th, 2016, Anthony DiPippo was acquitted and released after serving 19 years in prison.
Rank #17: S5E7: Convicted Of A Grisly Murder & Mutilation Even Though She Was 200 Miles Away With An Airtight Alibi: The Insane Saga Of Blaise Lobato
Blaise Lobato was twice convicted of the gruesome murder of a 44-year-old homeless man named Duran Bailey, whose body was found behind a dumpster off the Las Vegas Strip just after 10 p.m. on July 8, 2001, covered in a thin layer of trash. Bailey’s teeth had been knocked out and his eyes were bloodied and swollen shut; his carotid artery had been slashed, his rectum stabbed, and his penis amputated. It was found among the trash nearby. Despite a crime scene rich with potential evidence, Las Vegas detectives Thomas Thowsen and James LaRochelle ignored obvious leads and instead focused their investigation on 18-year-old Blaise Lobato, based solely on a third-hand rumor. Ms. Lobato became a suspect because of an attack she fended off in Las Vegas in May 2001. A man attempted to rape her, and she fought him off with a knife, slashing him in the groin area before escaping in her car. In July, police drove up to the small town of Panaca to interview Ms. Lobato about the incident. On the day of the crime, she was at home with her parents in Panaca, which was nearly three hours northeast of Las Vegas near the Utah state line. She was forthcoming with police and described an incident entirely different from Bailey’s murder. When the police told her that the man had died, she mistakenly believed it was the same man that had attacked her, and she expressed remorse, which the police took to be a confession. Even though there was not a shred of physical evidence linking Blaise Lobato to the crime scene, on May 18, 2002, she was convicted of first degree murder and sexual penetration of a dead body and sentenced to 40 to 100 years. The state’s theory of the crime fell apart in October 2017, when Vanessa Potkin, Director of Post-Conviction Litigation at the Innocence Project, and a team of attorneys presented nearly a week’s worth of testimony from several renowned entomologists and a medical examiner, each of whom demonstrated why the state’s narrative never made any scientific sense. On December 19, 2017, the judge vacated Ms. Lobato’s conviction and ordered a new trial. The grounds were inadequate legal defense for failing to call an expert to challenge the time of death, given that it was such a pivotal issue. Ten days later, the prosecution dropped all charges, and Blaise Lobato was freed after serving almost 16 years on prison. In this episode she is joined by two of her Innocence Project attorneys, Jane Putcher & Adnan Salter.
Please link to Blaise's gofundme: https://www.gofundme.com/kirstinlobatolibertyfund
Rank #18: S7E15: Dusty Turner: A Navy Seal Behind Bars For 22 Years For A Murder Even Though The Actual Killer Confessed
Dusty Turner was a 20-year-old Navy SEAL trainee when he was arrested for the murder and abduction of Jennifer Evans. On June 19th, 1995, Dusty Turner was out at a bar with some friends in Virginia Beach, VA including his roommate and training partner, Billy Brown. Dusty Turner and Jennifer Evans were sitting in his car waiting for Evans’s friends to join them when an extremely intoxicated Billy Brown forced his way into the back seat and began insulting Evans and pulling her hair. When she tried to defend herself, Brown suddenly attacked her, wrapped his arms around her neck in a forceful choke hold, and killed her instantly. All the while Dusty Turner had been prying and clawing Brown’s hand off of Evans, pleading with him to stop. Finally realizing that she was dead, Dusty Turner panicked and reacted to his intensive SEAL training that demanded“alwaysprotect your swim buddy” regardless of the cost. Mr. Turner’s instinct for survival and misplaced loyalty to Brown took over as he drove out of the parking lot and helped Brown hide the victim’s body in a nearby wooded area. Eight days later, Mr. Turner confessed the entire story to his commanding officer and agreed to take the police to the body after being assured that he would only be used as a witness during the trial. During Billy Brown’s trial in 1996, Brown testified against Mr. Turner to receive a lesser sentence of 72 years in prison. Three months later, with an outraged community and media frenzy surrounding the case, Dusty Turner was convicted of first degree murder and abduction, and sentenced to 82 years in prison. In 2002, Billy Brown confessed to Jennifer Evans’ murder and said that Dusty Turner played no part in it. The testimony he gave matches the story Mr. Turner told his commanding officer and also matches the physical evidence that the police had at the time of the crime. Dusty Turner petitioned for a“writof actual innocence” and his conviction was overturned by a three-judge panel of the Virginia State Court of Appeals. However, the State Attorney General’s Office quickly appealed this decision and the original Court of Appeals ruling was overturned. Since he first told his story to his commanding officer, Mr. Turner has steadfastly maintained his innocence, acknowledging that he was guilty only of being an accessory-after-the-fact, which is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 12 months in jail. To date, Dusty Turner has served nearly 22 years in prison, over half of his life.
Link to watch the documentary for free online: https://vimeo.com/143034674/21eed7bd0f
Rank #19: S5E10: Tortured By Police, Failed By The Justice System & Locked Up In Hell On A Putrid Prison Ship: Angel Cordero’s Fight For Freedom
Angel Cordero was convicted in 1999 of attempted murder and robbery of then-Boston University freshman Jason Mercado, who was attacked and stabbed by strangers while walking in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. Four plainclothes Bronx Gang Unit cops driving by the scene observed the tail end of the assault and quickly arrested five men out of the crowd, including Angel Cordero, who at age 26 had no prior criminal record, and his brother, Ramon Rivas. Three of the five young men pleaded guilty in exchange for lesser sentences, but Angel Cordero and Ramon Rivas refused to plead guilty and went to trial. At trial, multiple people testified that a man named Dario Rodriguez had committed the stabbing. In addition, the three confessed assailants also told police that Mr. Cordero and his brother were not involved. Both brothers were found guilty of second-degree attempted murder, robbery in the first degree, and assault in the first degree, and they were both sentenced to 15 years in prison. Ramon Rivas won his appeal due to judicially inappropriate actions made by the court and was released 6 years into his sentence. Angel Cordero served 13 years in prison despite numerous statements from witnesses that he was not involved, as well as the 2007 confession of longtime drug dealer Dario Rodriguez, who admitted he actually committed the crime. Mr. Cordero was released on parole in 2012, and he is still fighting for exoneration with his attorneys at the Innocence Project. In this episode, he is joined by his biggest supporter, his wife Michelle Cordero, who married him while he was still in prison.
Please tag Michelle and Angel as follow:
Rank #20: S5E11: A Gruesome Murder, An Impossible Scenario And A Sloppy But Ultimately Successful Frame Up: The Terrible Saga Of Andre Hatchett's 25 Years Behind Bars For A Crime He Did Not Commit
Andre Hatchett spent half of his life in prison for a murder he did not commit largely due to inadequate defense, a single unreliable witness, and exculpatory evidence that was not disclosed to the defense. He was the 19th person to be exonerated under Brooklyn D.A. Ken Thompson's Conviction Integrity Unit. Andre Hatchett is joined by Senior Staff Attorney at the Innocence Project Seema Saifee and his brother Jerry Hatchett in this episode.