Another innocent man
May 8, 2001 6:27 AM   Subscribe

Another innocent man gets out of prison - after 15 years Jeffrey Pierce goes home. If he admitted committing the rape, he would have gone free by now, but he stood his ground, and lost 15 years. II
posted by tomplus2 (19 comments total)
15 years he could have spent with his kids, who didn't even know he was in jail till three weeks ago. Ugh.
posted by lia at 6:41 AM on May 8, 2001

Whoever invented this "DNA" stuff stands to make a fortune...
posted by jpoulos at 6:44 AM on May 8, 2001

"Most suspects are guilty."

  -- former Attorney General Edwin Meese III
posted by dhartung at 7:11 AM on May 8, 2001

Pierce bitterly blamed ... file a lawsuit.

Finally a wrongfully convicted guy who wants revenge. Most of the time the prosecutors are not prosecuted and the victims are not compensated for having their lives stolen. The first anal penetration alone should be worth at least $10 million.

posted by fleener at 7:22 AM on May 8, 2001

this is why i think the death penalty is so scary...
posted by bwg at 7:40 AM on May 8, 2001

Can anyone of us out here even begin to know what it was like to be wrongly convicted and have 15 years of your life stolen, and worse yet, having to pass those years in what is likely an inhuman situation? It gives me chills to think about it. What amount of money could compensate for this? Probably none, but he still deserves a big chunk anyway!
posted by SteveS at 7:54 AM on May 8, 2001

a very sad story indeed. I hope he sues them all and makes their lives miserable. If I was ever on his jury I would award him as much as possible.
posted by Qambient at 7:56 AM on May 8, 2001

11 people were put to death against whom she testified. Wonder how many of them were innocent? We all screw up on jobs (minor stuff), but this job has fatal consequences. For this reason, and this reason alone, even though I support death penalty, I agree with Gov. Ryan of Illinois to stop all executions until there is a through review of the system.
posted by Rastafari at 8:01 AM on May 8, 2001

The first anal penetration alone should be worth at least $10 million.

Wow. Really? I'm gonna start turning tricks and live like a king!!!
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:39 AM on May 8, 2001

>> He was sentenced to 65 years behind bars.

Not to downplay the seriousness of rape or anything, but doesn't this seem especially harsh for a single rape charge?
posted by waxpancake at 9:01 AM on May 8, 2001

The quote at the end (about his sons) really broke my heart. "I love them,'' Pierce said. "I heard they do want to meet me and they don't hate me or anything."
posted by redfoxtail at 9:11 AM on May 8, 2001

Not to downplay the seriousness of rape or anything, but doesn't this seem especially harsh for a single rape charge?

It may seem harsh, unless you're the rape victim, of course. Sentences for crimes like this are usually discretionary with the judge, since there is no federal guidelines for it. Better than castration, I suppose......
posted by Rastafari at 9:25 AM on May 8, 2001

... which, like the death penalty, is permanent.

redfoxtail, I know what you mean. I wanted to give the guy a hug after reading that. Props to him for standing his ground, and for planning to sue. I hope he wins a bundle.
posted by lia at 9:37 AM on May 8, 2001

concerning the lab technician who presented the evidence to get him convicted--and who has a great record of getting people on death row as well--what is worse?

malice and fraud that ruins lives?

or incompetence that ruins lives?
posted by th3ph17 at 9:56 AM on May 8, 2001

Who does Pierce intend to sue? If there was no DNA tested, and the testimony of the forensic expert was not fabricated or based on inaccurate testing results, then who is at fault? The technology pointed to Pierce. His alibi witnesses were either not credible or not used (which may point to ineffectual counsel, but the article doesn't say) at trial. The victim's ID was shaky but even a rookie prosecutor knows how to overcome that by pointing out that it's an ID from a time when the victim was under significant duress and fear.

I feel terrible for Pierce, but his conviction seems to stem from a lot of circumstantial evidence, and there wasn't anything presented during trial that explained away those circumstances enough to exonerate him. It's a tragedy, but I'm hard pressed to see how it's actionable unless there was negligence or an actual conspiracy to convict him, facts be damned, and it doesn't seem that either is true.
posted by Dreama at 10:19 AM on May 8, 2001

When did admission make you less guilty here? Flaw number one: rewards should not be given for cooperation in situations such as these. There's faulty logic at work here: acknowledgement does not completely absolve!
posted by Oddsea at 12:00 PM on May 8, 2001

If there was no DNA tested, and the testimony of the forensic expert was not fabricated or based on inaccurate testing results, then who is at fault?

Dreama, the forensic examiner in this case was expelled by a professional association for unethical behavior; she apparently had a habit of dramatically overstating the prosecution's case. (Ms. Gilchrist was previously mentioned on MeFi, but the link title wasn't terribly meaningful.) Does the state bear legal responsibility for her unethical behavior? You're a lawyer -- what's your opinion?
posted by snarkout at 12:13 PM on May 8, 2001

Dreama, the jury is supposed to convict only under... what's the language, evidence presented "Beyond a reasonable doubt".

Without Ms. Gilchrist's input, it seems the rest of the evidence against him was circumstantial at best... which means he shouldn't have been convicted.
posted by SpecialK at 1:08 PM on May 8, 2001

I love Dreama's "Whoops!" theory of criminal justice.

Today the Oklahoma defense lawyers' association asked for a special prosecutor to investigate Joyce Gilchrist; the article states she's already "being investigated by the FBI, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the state attorney general’s office and an outside firm [auditing the forensic evidence]". The article also notes that the state tort claims act prohibits inmate claims against the state.

Here's an overview of the Gilchrist controversy. Note that the first major article is from 1999, when a Federal judge raked her (and prosecutors) over the coals for withholding exonerating evidence from defense attorneys; apparently over the last year the laboratory chief received increasing indications of concern from outside experts, ordered a thorough internal review, and that led the police chief to ask for an FBI investigation in March, which is when the shit really hit the fan. What's heartening is to read the series of memos and see real concern that the issues of untrustworthy forensic evidence could lead to court challenges and failed cases. Reading it is also a disturbing story of a difficult work situation for people in a small department.
posted by dhartung at 4:20 PM on May 8, 2001

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