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3 black men released after 18 years in prison on wrongful murder convictions

Michael Cosme, Devon Ayers, and Carlos Perez. (Source: Buzzfeed)
Michael Cosme, Devon Ayers, and Carlos Perez. (Source: Buzzfeed)

Michael Cosme, Devon Ayers, and Carlos Perez. (Source: Buzzfeed)

Michael Cosme, Devon Ayers, and Carlos Perez lost 18 years of their lives in prison for murders they did not commit. The three men were convicted of the 1995 killings of a livery cap driver and FedEx executive. Eric Glisson and Cathy Watkins, who were also wrongfully convicted in the livery cap driver killing, were released last month.

Emotions were high when they were finally released Wednesday night. Video footage from NBC New York captures last night’s heartwarming scenes of the newly freed men as they embraced their loved ones with tears in their eyes. Cosme shouts gleefully, “I’m free, I’m free. Finally, after 18 years, I’m free.”

The convictions were based on the testimony of a single questionable eyewitness who has since died.  Upon Glisson and Watkin’s release in December, their defense attorney told ABC News, “As long as you’re relying on a crackhead who gets paid, these wrongful convictions are never going to stop.”

The National Registry of Exonerations, which has recorded over 2,000 exonerations in the United States since 1989, estimates that eyewitness misidentification plays a role in 43 percent of wrongful convictions. Other significant factors include  perjury or false accusation (51 percent), official misconduct (42 percent), false or misleading forensic evidence (24 percent) and false confession (16 percent). Keep in mine that these numbers only reflect wrongfully convicted inmates who have been exonerated, meaning there are many more innocents wasting away behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit, we just don’t know how many.

One significant conclusion reached by the Registry’s exoneration record is that a significant portion of the wrongfully convicted look a lot like Michael Cosme, Devon Ayers, and Carlos Perez. Though African Americans make up just 13 of the population, half of exonerees are black. This reflects the disproportionate representation of black Americans in the prison population, a result of the structural racism that plagues each and every level of the American criminal justice system.

It’s always a victory when the wrongfully convicted are freed, but there doesn’t seem to be much work  being done to reform the system responsible for these injustices. Michael Cosme, Devon Ayers, and Carlos Perez will never get back the nearly two decades they spent in cages, away from loved ones. There’s no way to quantify the destructive mental and physical impacts prison likely had on a their families. Their kids were deprived of a father and grew up thinking that their dad was a murderer. Their partners were left on their own to support the family.

I can’t even count the number of letter’s I’ve received from prisoners around the country desperately seeking help in proving their innocence. Some are even on death row and have crappy attorneys who are overworked, underpaid or just straight up jerks who don’t care. Others are in prison for life without parole because they refused a plea deal since they’re innocent.

At this point, the criminal justice system is fucked beyond repair and black America is paying the heaviest price, which is an understatement. As long as we continue to rely solely on civil rights  attorneys to push the courts the right these wrongs, we’re doomed to fail. Nothing short of a massive grassroots nationwide movement for equality can fix this nightmare.

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5 Comments
  1. Excellent. The rampant forensic science evidence fraud is also heavily contributing to wrongful convictions, as is the almost routine acceptance by judges that cops are somehow “expert” witnesses (once classified as an “expert,” a witness is given a lot of latitude to speculate about their observations).

    January 24, 2013
  2. Carita #

    I am very pleased to hear that justice has been finally served, I am truly sorry for the loss of 18 years away from all your families. I praise God, Prayer does work! Amen

    My nephew is in a similar situation in Georgia since 2009 for the murder of his ex and her boyfriend. no evidence to say he did it no DNA either. so it’s good to see that their are still compassionate Human Beings who believe in the truth. So I am saying to all who helped in the background and the for front. THANK YOU AND MAY GOD CONTINUE TO KEEP YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES.

    Carita

    January 24, 2013
  3. The corruption in our justice system *has* reached crisis proportions. Only the tiniest fraction of a percent of those actually innocent who have been convicted is revealed in the above statistics. In Washington State, 80% of those charged with felonies plead guilty–not necessarily because they are, but because prosecutors overcharged to terrorize them into doing so. Moreover, too many prosecutors simply aim to get convictions regardless of the truth…even truth documented by the sworn statements of 4 eye witnesses! I can tell you the corruption amounts to criminal conspiracies or criminal negligence in many instances. Read http://amicuscuria.com/wordpress/?p=4426 for a 1st hand account of a senior citizen prosecuted (fortunately unsuccessfully) by corrupt officials in Thurston County (Olympia), WA.

    The case amounted to a disabled young mother being denied accommodation by a juvenile probation officer (Sara Dotson). The mother (Amy Cunningham) was being accommodated by a lifelong friend of her family given she had grown up with, been in the home of, and gone to school with the Good Samaritan’s daughter (same age). They were best friends. For the mere act of remonstrating with the official and thereafter photographing her in the public hallway of the family courthouse, yours truly was targeted by Dotson, courthouse staff, the deputy prosecutor (Jennifer Lord), and detective Roland Weiss of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Dept. All these people worked so close together (literally within a dozen feet of each other or less) they couldn’t have been in closer proximity at work unless they’d been sitting in each other’s lap.

    Being a photojournalist, a paralegal, and having a lot of experience with the court system helped defeat the bogus felony plus 2 misdemeanor charges that could have resulted in 10 years for the felony alone. (Threatening/intimidating a public official) The charges took almost 6 months to defeat in order to show they were based on a lying complaining witness (Sara Dotson), an arrogant complicit deputy prosecutor (Jennifer Lord), and a vindictive manipulative detective (Roland Weiss) who was overly impressed with his law degree and admission to the WA. State Bar. Ultimately, the presiding judge saw through the State’s charade and granted a rarely successful motion for a change of venue. Following that, the State folded their fraudulent criminal case like a cheap suit. To successfully defend, pro se, against such serious charges took a lot of courage and some confidence even though the truth and the facts should have been self evident. They may have been, but they can’t be counted on to exonerate an innocent man. Managing the 4 eye witnesses, cultivating and establishing trust with the presiding judge, investigating prosecutorial & police misconduct, and maintaining more dignity in the courtroom than the prosecutor combined with a few other legal jujitsu maneuvers I won’t reveal are things they don’t teach in law school. Graduating with a law degree and passing the bar doesn’t make a lawyer. Familiarity with the sewers of the legal system, however, paid off. Watching a 66 year old defendant successfully play hardball with the County’s heavy hitters was like watching your grandmother wrestle with an alligator–and WIN!
    -amicuscuria.com/wordpress-

    January 29, 2013
  4. tracey #

    I just experienced the corruption of Sara Dotson acting as a guardian ad litem.
    wow can she lie and is a great actress.

    To bad it lost me custody of my grandchildren to a mother that will must likely neglect and abuse them again.

    And since I’m not rich and couldn’t afford a lawyer I’m sol..

    Swear she was paid of by the boyfriend family

    February 15, 2013
  5. Great web site. Lots of useful information here. I’m sending it to some pals ans additionally sharing in delicious.

    April 24, 2013

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