Mark Puente, The Plain Dealer:
Common Pleas Judge Eileen A. Gallagher asked Towler to be patient as she summarized the case. She said he can never be tried for the rape again and ordered his record expunged.
Towler looked over his right shoulder and smiled at his relatives. His brother, Clarance Settles, pumped his fist.
Gallagher fought back tears while declaring Towler a free man.
"Raymond Towler was a wrongfully imprisoned individual," Gallagher said.
She then read him an Irish blessing.
"Mr. Towler, it's a long day coming," she said. "May the world let the world rise to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm on your face..."
She then left the bench and shook Towler's hands, saying: "Mr. Towler, you're free to go."
The UC College of Law's Ohio Innocence Project helped free Raymond Towler who was wrongfully incarcerated for 29 years. He was their tenth exoneree. He is the 254th person to be exonerated with the use of DNA in this country since 1989. DNA evidence proves he did not rape an eleven year old girl for which he had been sentenced to life in prison for. I am very thankful for all of the innocence projects in this country and the people who worked so hard to bring justice for the wrongfully accused/incarcerated.
From USA Today:
"We've just seen too many cases now where the wrong person goes to prison," said Alaska state Sen. Hollis French, a Democrat who sponsored a similar bill last month that is now awaiting the governor's signature. "Folks are sensitive to the idea that it's a great backstop to our system."
We have to have excellent facilities for storage and testing. Hightly trained forensics staff is essential, but without excellent management there can be huge problems. The San Francisco Crime lab was not just compromised by Madden, it was a big cluster and located in a crappy building over a toxic site. Hundreds of cases were compromised and it could end up being thousands. Over the years who knows how accurate the evidence was. I do not know the conditions at the lab in Alaska, but considering my experiences with other agencies including some law enforcement agencies, I would be very surprised if it was not a cluster also.
Cassman, a former California Attorneys for Criminal Justice president, said he has urged the group and the ACLU to sue the police department for an urgent remedy, such as injunctive relief. When a crime lab is under the roof of the police department, Cassman added, criminalists become part of the prosecution team. "They are no longer scientists, it's ferreting out crime."
From The Anchorage Press:
Luckily for Oberly, Senator Hollis French (D-Anchorage) had been working on a bill addressing the preservation of evidence since last year’s session, Senate Bill 110. “My chief of staff spent hours on the phone with the Department of Law, the Department of Public Safety, police chiefs around the state, and crafted a bill everybody could support,” French says. “So when the governor introduced a bill, we thought, ‘that looks interesting; we slaved over that last year.’ In talking to [the administration], they came to see that was true, and in working out a comprehensive crime resolution we settled on the idea the governor would get his two other bills and I would get the preservation of evidence bill with the addition of post-conviction DNA testing.”Oberly’s issue with the governor’s bill was it was so restrictive that very few convicts, if any, were going to get testing under the statute as written. There was a provision that a convict could not have conceded guilt at any time prior to requesting DNA testing, and that DNA testing would have to be done at the trial court level; if someone waived the DNA testing then, they couldn’t get it into an innocence claim post-conviction. A convict seeking post-conviction testing would also have to bring action within three years of their case ending, or within three years of the statute becoming law
I was wrongfully imprisoned for less than a month which caused me huge health problems, resulted in my property being stolen/destroyed, and my cat being starved/tortured. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to be accused of raping a child and imprisoned for 29 years while being innocent. He says he isn’t angry. I have a feeling he is just feeling grateful and on cloud nine because he just got freed. I am hoping he will get angry enough to sue Ohio. He believes they tried their best to solve the crime. Perhaps this case was a pure mistake, but there are many where malfeasance is the main problem. I don’t know anything about Ohio prisons, maybe they have healthy food and healthcare. Generally, most prisons destroy the health of the inmates, something they do not have a right to take. Being imprisoned and knowing evil people put me there on purpose pretty much destroyed any trust I ever had in our judicial system or the government in the state of Alaska because a lot of people at the state level knew about it and did nothing.
The innocent with DNA evidence have a chance. What about all those who are innocent and wrongfully incarcerated who do not have DNA? Some of them with reviews of their cases and research could be exonerated. A lot of people have been convicted by coerced testimony from people who were promised something if they said the right thing. That practice needs to end.
My eyes were opened wide because my case of wrongful imprisonment had multiple causes, some of them being officers of the court maliciously harming me on purpose, on both sides. Another huge problem is under funding of public defender agencies. 95% of all public defender clients are manipulated or threatened into taking pleas. Yes, only 5% get trials. Has anyone ever heard of a public defender winning a case? The supreme court in Alaska has ruled defendants of the public defender agency can't decide the reasons for their appeals. The public defender agency of course did not file appeals about their incompetence or the malfeasance of the prosecutor and since my so called attorney never presented any evidence(nor did replacement #1 or #2) the appellate judges had essentially nothing, but what the DOL presented. This is how our court system works, we are supposed to have a right to a trial, but they have developed techniques to prevent trials. I had some of them used on me and I was demanding a trial. Some indigent defendants are innocent, but the public defender convinces them they will go to prison a long time. Due to fear tactics the defendant takes a plea. They are not told they will be thrown out of public housing and most likely loose their job if they take that plea which of course results in a conviction. The quality of the lawyer for the poor does not matter to them. In Nome I had Judge Esch growl at me when I complained about my abusive, confused, alcohol dependent public defender, “Indigent defendants don’t get to choose their attorneys.” He really emphasized the word indigent, like I was lower than dirt. I was requesting a different attorney due to severe problems, not a specific one.
There is an Alaska Innocence Project and I have noticed their staff has increased. Gregory Marino has been incarcerated for 17 years for murder and attempted murder. The state has agreed to allow them to test DNA evidence, but they have not been able to raise the $20,000 to pay for it. Their website says they have 125 more requests, but not all of them qualify for the program. That may be old information, there could be more by now. You can find them on facebook.