Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart were 16 when they were arrested on Thanksgiving Day 1983. They were charged with a crime committed by 14-year-old Dewitt Duckett. They were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. They spent 36 years in prison. Today they are free because they have been proven innocent and the city BaltimoreIn the state Maryland, has now announced that it has agreed to pay them US$48 million in compensation. This is the story.
One afternoon in November 1983, Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart skipped school to visit their old high school, Harlem Park Junior High.. But after walking through the corridors and seeing former teachers, they were escorted out by a security guard.
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After about 30 minutes, David Duckett He was shot in the neck and died at Harlem Park Junior High School. His shooter also took his jacketAccording to the police.
According to The Washington PostWitnesses reported to police what they saw Michael Willis18 years old, run out of school and throw away the gun, that’s it He wore a Georgetown jacket that night.
But far from following that lead, the lead homicide detective, Donald KincaidThe focus was on the friends Chestnut, Watkins, and Stewart because many people looked up to them at school.
Additionally, when police searched Chestnut’s home at 1 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, they found a Georgetown jacket.
But witnesses were unable to identify Chestnut, Watkins and Stewart in photos officers showed them, according to police records cited by the Washington Post.
Tried as adults
“The case attracted intense publicity in 1983 as one of the first violent theft cases of sports equipment. Prosecutors BaltimoreLed by then-Assistant State Attorney Jonathan Shoup, “They chose to judge minors as adults.” The Washington Post reviews.
During the trial, attorney Shoup told defense attorneys that there was no evidence to exonerate the teenagers, despite reports that witnesses did not identify them. Willis was named as the suspect.
It was later learned that several witnesses told investigators that the investigator Kincaid and other investigators forced them to make false statements “Harlem Park Three”who are guilty and Sentenced to life imprisonment. They were already 17 years old then.
The Washington Post noted that all appeals failed, so Watkins and Stewart said they were resigned to life behind bars. But Chestnut did not give up and continued to press for a retrial.
Accordingly CNN, Chestnut Wynn submitted a public records request to the attorney general Maryland. Thanks to that request he found it New evidence was withheld from his lawyers during the trial. Then, he got in touch Baltimore Division of Penal IntegrityA re-examiner of old beliefs.
Investigators “disregarded eyewitness and physical evidence that contradicted the chosen narrative, including other suspicious evidence. Instead, Fabricated evidence to implicate plaintiffsAccording to a lawsuit filed in 2020, it forces even young witnesses to testify falsely.
“It pissed me off,” he said. Chestnut In an interview in 2019. “Everything was hidden during those years. “I knew they didn’t want to reveal those things.”
CNN reported that the suit claimed that a “John Doe” killed DeWitt and fled the school with his jacket. By the time the case of the accused was reviewed, he had already died.
“On November 25, 2019, three days before Thanksgiving, a judge entered an order of actual not guilty (jointly filed by the plaintiffs and the state. Maryland) and ordered his immediate release”The lawsuit says.
Public Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby He said then “Deliberate concealment and misrepresentation of false evidenceEvidence that it was someone else.”
He also apologized to three convicts when they were freed, and pledged to work on reforms for those wrongfully convicted, according to CNN.
On November 25, 2019, the three men walked from the Baltimore City Courthouse toward North Calvert Street to meet their loved ones, the Washington Post recalled.
Almost 15 million dollars each
Last week on Wednesday, the Baltimore Board of Assessment The case approved the settlement by a vote of 5 to zero.
The men will each receive $14.9 million and the law firm representing them, Brown, Goldstein & Levy, will receive $3.3 million, according to legal documents.
Mayor of BaltimoreBrandon Scott said in a public statement that agreements like these seek to correct “gross injustices” against residents and that affected families deserve compensation.
“Our city is in a position in 2023 to really pay for (Baltimore Police Department) officer misconduct that dates back decades,” Scott said. “This is part of the price our city must pay to right the wrongs of this terrible history.”.
In 2020, the three men sued the Baltimore Police Department, Kincaid, and another detective, Brian Joyce. Joyce said he was “stunned” to learn of the acquittal that year, adding that “our goal when I was in the homicide unit was to find the truth wherever it took us.”
When the lawsuit was filed, “When you take the lives of three kids and destroy them, nobody wants to talk about it … I’m fighting to get my life back,” Watkins said.
Prosecutor Shoup died in 2016 and suspect Willis was shot to death in West Baltimore in 2002, the Washington Post reported.