After 28 Years, Another Death Row Inmate Set Free
Anthony Ray Hinton spent half his life on Alabama’s death row after being sentenced to death in 1985 for murders he always insisted he did not commit. After 28 long years behind bars, authorities have finally set him free.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Hinton is the 152nd person exonerated from death row since 1973 and the sixth in Alabama.
The only evidence investigators found against Hinton were the spent shells from the pair of shootings. Authorities claimed it was from the same gun his mother owned but they never found his fingerprints, eyewitnesses or any forensic evidence linking Hinton to the crime. Prosecutors exploited a weak defense and Hinton was sent to Death Row, spending nearly three decades waiting to die.
A breakthrough came last year when he won a new trial after the US Supreme Court ruled Hinton’s trial counsel “constitutionally deficient”. His defence lawyer wrongly thought he had only $1,000 to hire a ballistics expert to rebut the state’s case. The only expert willing to take the job at that price – a one-eyed civil engineer with little ballistics training who admitted he had trouble operating the microscope – was obliterated on cross-examination.
Upon release, Hinton placed flowers on his mother’s grave and sent condolences to the families of the murder victims. He also said God would get final vengeance on those who sought to have him killed for crimes he did not commit.’ Equal Justice Initiative’ director Bryan Stevenson, who waged a 16-year fight for Hinton’s release, had critical words for the way the criminal justice system treat Hinton.
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“Not only did he lose his life, he lived a life in solitary confinement on death row, condemned in a five-by-eight cell where the state was trying to kill him every day,” Stevenson said….“We have a system that treats you better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent and this case proves it. We have a system that is compromised by racial bias and this case proves it. We have a system that doesn’t do the right thing when the right thing is apparent,” Stevenson said. “Prosecutors should have done this testing years ago.”
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