The criminal justice system has sent innocent people behind bars. One man in particular, John Huffington, received two convictions for two murders he did not commit. The prosecutors of his case relied on expert testimony based on a scientifically unreliable analysis. Huffington appealed his first conviction in 1981. The jury still found him guilty, and he was given the death sentence, which prosecutors later changed to two life sentences.
In 2013, Huffington “presented new evidence using DNA testing that was not yet available during his earlier trials.” The DNA testing proved Huffington had been innocent all along. After serving 32 years behind bars, 10 of which were on death row, he is now a free man. He received $2.9 million in compensation from a Maryland board.
The wrongful conviction never should have happened. If Huffington gave up, he would still be in prison today.
How did the wrongful conviction happen?
Joseph I. Cassilly was the state attorney who handled Huffington’s case. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) made a report to let Cassilly know that the evidence against Huffington was questionable and unreliable, but he intentionally did not disclose the exculpatory evidence.
Exculpatory evidence is any evidence that could have the potential to exonerate a person who is under suspicion of having committed a crime. Suppressing or fabricating exculpatory evidence is prosecutorial misconduct and is one of the possible reasons to overturn a conviction.
John Huffinton always maintained his innocence and refused to give up even when the criminal justice system failed him repeatedly. His exoneration is proof that through persistence and determination, the truth will prevail.