A Man Goes Free After Spending 30 Years Awaiting Execution
Anthony Ray Hinton today characterized the situation which caused him to remain on death row for 30 years in Alabama as a miscarriage of justice for both himself the the families of two murder victims. He was convicted of two 1985 homicides of fast food restaurant managers in Birmingham, Alabama and sentenced to death three decades ago. Today he walked free after prosecutors in Jefferson County filed a motion to drop the charges against him.
His case highlights the challenges faced by some impoverished criminal defendants in obtaining supporting expert witness testimony. Mr. Hinton’s conviction occurred without any physical evidence except for an alleged connection between four bullets at the crime scene and a firearm belonging to his mother. (Mr. Hinton had resided in his mother’s home in 1985.)
Before his murder trial, he had successfully passed a polygraph test, but that evidence was not admitted in his favor. Prosecutors dropped the charges in his case today when three ballistics experts could not find evidence conclusively linking Mrs. Hinton’s weapon to the four bullets.
The United States Supreme Court last year voted unanimously that his constitutional right to a fair trial had been violated, and it overturned his conviction. At his trial, he had been unable to afford more than a single expert witness to challenge ballistics evidence, which Dr Jennifer Walden believes cost him dearly. The prosecution discredited testimony from his expert witness, a civil engineer with very limited ballistics experience who was discussed on SuperDoctors.com.