125th person exonerated from death row

Michael McCormick is the 125th person to be exonerated from death row since 1973.

That’s 125 INNOCENT human beings that have been sentenced to death for a crime that they did not commit and were able to survive long enough and avoid, unlike many others, being executed.

That said, I’m against the death penalty regardless of innocence or guilt but that statistic is truly chilling and with every new person that is saved from the barbaric practice of legalized murder it should become clearer and clearer how broken the US justice system is and how wrong and immoral the death penalty is.

An Acquittal After 15 Years on Death Row

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: December 6, 2007

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Dec. 5 (AP) — A jury on Wednesday acquitted a man who spent more than 15 years on death row in Tennessee for the fatal shooting of a woman.

Jurors in the retrial of the man, Michael L. McCormick, agreed with defense lawyers who said Mr. McCormick, 55, had been lying when the police secretly recorded his confession.

Mr. McCormick shuddered slightly and cried as the verdict was announced before being led away by court officers. He was taken into custody to appear on a misdemeanor drug charge in an incident that occurred after he was released on bond awaiting his new trial.

He was retried after an appeals court decided that his defense counsel in the trial was inadequate when a jury sentenced him to death for the shooting in 1985. DNA tests in 2001 showed that a hair used to place Mr. McCormick at the scene of the killing could not be his.

Mr. McCormick was convicted in 1987 in the killing of Donna J. Nichols, 23, a pharmacist here. Ms. Nichols was shot in the head and hand, and her body was dumped in a mall parking lot.

Prosecutors say the slaying was intended to keep Ms. Nichols from telling the police about a robbery that Mr. McCormick supposedly committed with her brother.

District Attorney Michael Taylor said Mr. McCormick was “the man who brutally admitted and described how he killed Jean Nichols.”

Two years after the killing, an undercover officer secretly recorded Mr. McCormick’s confession when the officer set up fake car thefts and proposed to Mr. McCormick that they work together on a murder contract in Knoxville. That was a hoax, investigators said.

Mr. McCormick’s lawyer, Michael Richardson, said in his closing argument on Tuesday that the only prosecution evidence was the recording, which was obtained by the police who had “set up a man they knew to be an alcoholic and a notorious liar.”

The defense also said the police ran a shoddy investigation and overlooked other suspects.

Mr. McCormick did not testify. He has said he was at home when the killing occurred.

A juror, Anita Jinnette, 45, said most jurors were in agreement to acquit when they began deliberations, which lasted six hours over two days.

Mr. McCormick’s reputation as a liar was important, Ms. Jinnette said, because “we basically had nothing except his confession.”

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