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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

Missouri Supreme Court refuses to hear inmate's innocence claims despite DNA testing and only eyewitness recanting

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - A man serving a life sentence is denied an appeal hearing by Missouri’s Supreme Court, despite DNA tests proving the hair used at trial wasn’t his and the only eyewitness recanting her testimony.

As 41 Action News first reported last year, Rodney Lincoln appealed his 1982 murder conviction to Missouri’s Court of Appeals but was denied.

The ruling stated innocence claims should only be allowed in death row cases.

The Missouri Supreme Court upheld that ruling this week by refusing to hear Lincoln’s case.

“There's no way a jury would’ve convicted Rodney if it had been fully informed,” said Sean O’Brien, UMKC Law Professor who helped work on Lincoln’s case.

DNA testing later showed the hair presented at trial turned out to not be Lincoln’s, but he’s still in prison 35 years later.

“Zero evidence tying him to the crime and the evidence they used at trial we’ve discovered that it was completely tainted with improper procedures,” O’Brien told 41 Action News.

O’Brien said one of those improper procedures is the police lineup of Lincoln they showed the murder victim’s seven year old daughter.

At the time, she had told police she saw the murderer and he had short hair, but all the men in the lineup had long hair except for Lincoln.

“This poor girl was manipulated into picking a picture of Rodney,” O’Brien said about the victim’s daughter who later recanted her testimony as an adult.

The Midwest Innocence Project is representing Lincoln for free and has tried to get his appeals heard for years.

Now that the Missouri Supreme Court has denied his appeal request, Lincoln’s last hope in the state is to either get paroled or a pardon from Governor Eric Greitens.

Source: kshb.com, June 1, 2017


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