Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bulletin: Cleveland Wright: (District of Columbia); Granted a certificate of actual innocence after being sent to prison for 28 years on hair analysis prosecutors now admit was false.

A D.C. man whose murder conviction was thrown out more than a year ago finally received his certificate of actual innocence on Friday. Cleveland Wright was sent to prison for 28 years on hair analysis prosecutors now admit was false. In 1979, prosecutors charged Wright and Santae Tribble with the murders of two men carried out 13 days apart. The theory was they were stick-up men working together. But at his trial, Wright was convicted of one murder and acquitted in the other. The same thing happened to Tribble.  Years later in 2012, DNA testing on hair evidence used at trial exonerated both men. Tibble received his certificate, while Wright kept waiting. In both pleadings to the court, prosecutors used slightly different language on whether to grant Tribble and Wright certificates of actual innocence. In Tribble's, prosecutors wrote it "does not oppose it,” while in Wright's, they said the government "takes no position.” With the issuance of his certificate of actual innocence, Wright, 57, becomes eligible to be compensated fro the decades he spent behind bars-- at a rate of $50,000 per year for every year he was locked up. He had been waiting for the judge in the case to issue her findings in order to receive the money from the government. D.C. Superior Court Judge Laura Cordero issued Wright's certificate of actual innocence, which reads in part: "Based on the entire record in this mater, including the new evidence before this court, the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Wright did not commit the crimes of first-degree murder while armed, first-degree felony murder and armed robbery of Mr. Horn, of which he was convicted in this case."