Case Updates

The Undisclosed team has investigated and reported on 24 cases since we launched, and have been able to assist in finding relief for 14 defendants. Ten of those defendants have been exonerated: Shaurn Thomas, Terrance Lewis, Willie Veasy, Chester Hollman III, Charles Ray Finch, Theophalis Wilson, Jonathan Irons, Dennis Perry, Ronnie Long, and Joseph Webster. Marcellus Williams and William Montgomery have had stays of execution. Cyntioa Brown has received a full commutation, and Cyrus Wilson has been granted parole. Joey Watkins, Pedro Reynoso, Fred Freeman/Temujin Kensu, and John Brookins have currently pending cases for relief before the courts or conviction integrity units. New appeals are expected soon in the Adnan Syed, Jamar Huggins, Pam Lanier, and Greg Lance cases. And further legal options are being explored for Rocky Myers and Jeff Titus.

Adnan Syed was convicted of the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. After the Circuit Court and the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland granted him a new trial, the Court of Appeals reversed in a 4-3 ruling on March 8, 2019. A new appeal is in the works, which should be filed early next year.
Joey Watkins was convicted of the 2000 murder of Isaac Dawkins. A few years ago, he filed a successor habeas petition, arguing for a new trial based on (1) a juror improperly doing a drive test during deliberations to see if she could make the cell tower pings work; and (2) the State violating Brady by failing to disclose evidence that a bullet recovered from Dawkins’s dog was a different caliber than the bullet recovered from Dawkins. On March 13, 2020, the Supreme Court of Georgia found that both of these claims can move forward. If Joey wins on either of these claims, his conviction will be tossed.
The one witness to implicate Jamar Huggins in a home invasion in Conway, South Carolina in 2014 has since recanted and named the actual person who committed the crime. The initial claim was that this was “new evidence” allowing for a new trial. But the Circuit Court found this recantation was known and not used by trial counsel. That decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals of South Carolina. This was all expected and sets up a pretty compelling argument for ineffective assistance of trial counsel. I’m currently working on that argument with Jamar’s attorney.
Marcellus Williams was convicted of the 1998 murder of Felicia Gayle. Governor Eric Greitens stayed Marcellus Williams’s execution in August 2017. He also appointed a Board of Inquiry to review his case. That Board has not yet issued its report.
Shaurn Thomas was convicted of the 1990 murder of Domingo Martinez. In March 2017, the Conviction Integrity Unit in Philadelphia threw out Shaurn Thomas’s conviction. Philadelphia officials later agreed to pay him $4.15 million.
Willie Veasy was convicted of the 1992 murder of John Lewis. On October 9, 2019, a judge vacated his conviction, and the State later dropped the charges against him due to compelling evidence of his innocence.
Terrance Lewis was convicted of the murder of Hulon Bernard Howard in 1996. Judge Barbara McDermott declared Terrance innocent in May 2019, leading to his release from prison. On June 30, 2020, it was announced that he had reached a settlement in which the city would pay him $6.25 million. Terrance has since started the Terrance Lewis Foundation, “a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for wrongfully convicted people who are seeking legal representation.”
Chester Hollman III was convicted of the 1991 murder of Tae Jung Ho. On July 15, 2019, he was released based on a finding that Hollman was innocent, and all charges against him were subsequently dropped on July 30th. Subsequently, on December 30, 2020, a settlement was reached, pursuant to which Chester Hollman III will be awarded $9.8 million for his 28 years of wrongful conviction.
Cyntoia Brown was convicted of the 2004 murder and robbery of Johnny Michael Allen. Governor Bill Haslam granted Cyntoia Brown clemency, and she was released August 7, 2019.
Ronnie Long was convicted of the 1976 rape of Gray Bost. In August, 2020, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina entered an order vacating Ronnie Long’s convictions for first-degree rape and burglary. In September 2020, he was released from prison. On December 17, 2020 North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued a Pardon of Innocence for Ronnie Long, making him eligible for $750,000 in compensation.
William Montgomery was convicted of the 1986 murder of Debra Ogle. Governor John Kasich commuted William’s death sentence to a life without parole sentence in March 2018.
Pam Lanier was convicted of the 1997 murder of her husband Dorian. In the near future, expect a motion for a new trial from the Wake Forest team based on new scientific evidence that Pam’s husband died from arsenic poisoning based on ingesting turkey medication rather than being poisoned by her.
Dennis Perry was convicted of the 1985 murders of Harold and Thelma Swain. In April 2020, it was reported that glasses likely left at the crime scene by the killer had hairs that returned a DNA match for alternate suspect Erik Sparre. A hearing on Dennis’s motion for extraordinary relief was held on July 13, 2020. The result of that hearing was Dennis Perry being granted a new trial. On July 23, 2020, he was released from prison.
Charles Ray Finch was convicted of the 1976 murder of Richard Holloman. The Fourth Circuit first found that Charles Ray Finch had proven his “actual innocence.” Then, a federal district court granted his habeas petition and set him free in May 2019.
Rocky Myers was convicted of murdering Ludie Mae Tucker in 1991 and given a death sentence as a result of judicial override, despite the jury voting 9-3 for a life sentence. As a result, it is difficult to see a path toward exoneration in the courts. That said, we hope that his death sentence can be commuted to a life sentence due to the use of judicial override in his case, and we also hope that we can convince Governor Kay Ivey to stay execution if and when that execution is scheduled.
Joseph Webster was convicted of the 1998 murder of Leroy Owens. Webster was exonerated after a judge agreed with the Davidson County Conviction Review Unit that he was wrongfully convicted, and he was released on November 10, 2020. Based on a GoFundMe fundraiser, Joseph will be able to move into his own apartment.
Cyrus Wilson was convicted of the 1992 murder of Christopher Luckett. On October 23, 2019, he was granted parole by the Tennessee Board of Parole.
Greg Lance was convicted of the murders of Victor and Alla Kolesnikow in 1998. Appellate options are currently being explored in his case.
Pedro Reynoso was convicted of the 1991 murders of Charles Rivera and Carlos Torres. In December, the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons voted to hold his case under advisement to determine if they are allowed to consider actual innocence claims. His case is also being reviewed by Philadelphia’s Conviction Integrity Unit.
Theophalis Wilson was convicted of the 1989 murders of Otis Reynolds, Gavin Anderson, and Kevin Anderson. On January 21, 2020, a judge declared him innocent of these murders and set him free.
Fred Freeman was convicted of the murder of Scott Macklem in 1986. His case is currently before the statewide Conviction Integrity Unit, whose operations have been put on hold due to COVID. His clemency request is also on the desk of Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Jonathan Irons was convicted of a burglary and shooting that occurred at the home of Stanley Stotler in O’Fallon, Missouri back in 1997. On June 30, 2020, the Supreme Court of Missouri refused to hear the State’s appeal from Judge Daniel Green’s opinion granting Jonathan Irons a new trial. On July 1, 2020, Jonathan was released from prison. The following day, the prosecutor announced that he would not take Jonathan’s case back to trial. Jonathan was then released from prison.
John Brookins was convicted of the 1990 murder of Sheila Ginsberg. John has a currently pending DNA petition, and his case should also be heard by the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons within the next few months.