Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Innocence Project Challenges Florida Execution

From The Broward Law Blog :

Posted by Publisher, Broward Law Blog at 11:12 AM

Today the Innocence Project of Florida (IPF) reiterated its intent to test the remaining DNA evidence in the case of Wayne Tompkins. Mr. Tompkins was executed on Wednesday, February 11th, in Raiford, Florida after being found guilty of murdering Lisa DeCarr in 1983.

IPF believes that further testing in the case could reveal that the body did not belong to the alleged victim, meaning Mr. Tompkins had been convicted of a murder that did not take place.“We have a remarkable case with Mr. Tompkins,” said Seth Miller, Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Florida. “The State supported this match between the body and the victim with a partial dental record, which was pretty unconvincing. But on top of that, several people have signed affidavits saying that they’ve seen her alive since the murder. If that’s the case, then Florida just killed an innocent man.”

If it were found that Mr. Tompkins was innocent of the 1983 murder, it would be the first case in American history of an executed man being scientifically proven innocent posthumously. In 2000, though, Frank Lee Smith was exonerated by DNA testing 11 months after he died of cancer on Florida’s Death Row.

“These agencies need to know we’re serious about going forward with testing, and we want to make sure they are preserving all of the evidence pursuant to Florida law,” said Miller. “If the State Attorney is convinced that Mr. Tompkins was guilty, they should support testing to put the doubts to rest."

Short blog on this issue. As a society, we do not want killers to go free. Nor do we want innocent people to be killed. It is that simple. But what have we learned, sadly? The faces of exoneration are many. We have discovered through the Innocence Projects nationally that too often we have criminally prosecuted the wrong person and incarcerated an innocent man. We have thus set justice back. It may not be what we intended, but in our rush to feverishly prosecute, we have instead wrongly persecuted. Injustice has been the only victor. We are all losers as a result, not just the man wrongly sentenced.

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