I used to be in favor of the death penalty. My opinion has changed over the past few years: I am in favor of the death penalty in theory, but after seeing the innocence project and the Duke Lacrosse case, I am of the opinion that our legal system is too corrupt to ensure that we are not executing the innocent.
Maurice Patterson was convicted of murder in 2002 for a fight where the
victim was stabbed 14 times. Three people witnessed the fight,
fleetingly and in the dark, and a fourth witness claimed to have seen a
man with blood on his hand hiding from the police. All four witnesses
identified Maurice Patterson in a live lineup weeks after the attack,
but they only testified regarding these identifications after being
threatened with Contempt of Court.
A bloody knife was found near
the scene and sent to Orchid Cellmark for DNA testing. STR test results
excluded Patterson, indicating a mixture of the victim’s profile and an
unknown profile. Comparison to the State CODIS DNA database revealed
that the unknown profile belonged to a drug addict with a history of
violence. Though the State Police Forensic Science Center had been
notified that the sample included the victim’s blood, this information
was never directly communicated to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s
Office. Prosecutors continued with the case against Patterson regardless
of the exculpatory results.
Robert Wilcoxson and Kenneth Kagonyera served almost 10 years in North
Carolina prisons for a murder they didn’t commit before a three-judge
panel overturned their convictions on September 22, 2011, based on DNA
evidence proving innocence.
In this case, a man was killed during a home invasion, and police managed to secure confessions from the two defendants. Three bandanas and two pairs of gloves were located on the side of the
road near the Bowman residence and were collected by deputies as
evidence in the case. The bandanas and gloves found near the crime scene
were submitted for pre-trial DNA testing. Results excluded all six
co-defendants, however this information was never turned over to
Kagonyera or Wilcoxson’s attorneys.
we have DNA and such, but when the system is so corrupt that
exculpatory evidence is "lost" or buried, we are executing the innocent.
That makes us all as a society guilty of murder.