Three men from Spokane are now free from prison. However, they are only free after serving five years in prison for crimes they claim they did not commit. Their penalties came as a result of testimony from a person they believe tried to frame them.
The men were accused of an armed robbery that was related to drugs back in 2008. The case has been controversial from the beginning because prosecutors changed the date they claimed the crime took place just before going to trial, ruining one man's alibi. The man admits that he has a checkered past and was convicted of a separate drug crime before his conviction in this case. However, he says that a 17-year-old who claimed that these men committed the robbery, assault and drive-by shooting in 2008 framed them. He says that the 17-year-old got a reduced sentence in exchange for his testimony and that his testimony was the only evidence used by prosecutors during the trial.
The Innocence Project Northwest decided to pick up the case and worked for months to clear the men's names. Eventually, they found both work and phone records that called his involvement in the crime into doubt. Since, the judge believed the new evidence created doubt the men committed the crime, he set them free. All three men are working to rebuild their lives.
Cases such as this one show how important mounting a strong criminal defense can be when accused of a crime. Providing another alibi through work and phone records after the first one was called into question could have saved these men almost five years in prison. Luckily, these men have managed to clear their names and can now move along with their lives. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help those who believe they have been wrongfully convicted of a crime obtain appeals in the hope of receiving a charge dismissal.
Source: KREM.com, "Wrongly convicted: Three Spokane men free after 5 years in jail", Hayley Guenthner, August 02, 2013