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Nearly four decades after an Illinois man was initially convicted of the murders of a brother and sister in their home, a judge ruled that several pieces of evidence could undergo DNA testing, reported the Journal Star.
Johnnie Lee Savory spent 30 years behind bars before being released in 2006. Five years later, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn commuted his sentence and ended his parole.
In Tuesday’s ruling, Peoria County Circuit Judge Steve Kouri said that the order doesn’t allow for a new trial and that DNA testing could be conducted at Savory’s own expense.
“This means hope for Johnnie,” said Joshua Tepfer, an attorney with the Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions. “He has wanted this and fought for this and a team of advocates and friends have fought for this for more than 20 years, or since this technology became available.”
Savory, who has maintained his innocence, was tried twice. He was found guilty in the stabbing deaths of Connie Cooper, 19, and her brother, James Robinson, 14, in June 1977. His first conviction was overturned when the Third District Illinois Appellate Court ruled Savory’s alleged confession involuntary. He was retried in 1981 and found guilty again. Two years later, two of the witnesses recanted their testimony.
Among the pieces of evidence being tested are items the investigators deemed relevant to the case back in 1977. They include the purported murder weapon, a knife taken from Savory’s pants, the pants Savory was wearing, fingernail clippings from Copper and Robinson as well as a bloody light switch plate.
Kouri noted in his order that the blood evidence used against Savory was only able to identify the group type, which is far less probative than DNA.
“Type O blood type is found in approximately one in two people and Type A is in approximately one in three people,” Kouri wrote. “Can it be imagined that such rudimentary ‘scientific’ evidence would be presented and argued to a jury in a courtroom today, particularly in a double-homicide trial?”
The Center on Wrongful Convictions already has a Texas-based DNA testing firm lined up, and Tepfer is optimistic about the results.
It's that time again. The time of year where Facebook lets you all know I am now a year older on March 13th. Well, up until the last few years I hated my birthday. Thanks to all of your generous hearts my birthday has turned into a real miracle. Over the last three years you've helped raise $27,000 to help fight homelessness.
PLEASE READ THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH:
"The stereotypes of people living in poverty throughout the United States are among the most negative prejudices that we have. And people basically view particularly homeless people as having no redeeming qualities" ~ Susan Fiske, Professor of Psychology. Princeton University
News headlines this week shared the story of the new teen trend of taking "selfies" with homeless people. I won't give the story any more traffic by linking to it here. Teens are also the number one perpetrators of violence against homeless people.
Invisible People's work is important!
I strongly believe that if the general public viewed our homeless neighbors as being the real people that they are, there wouldn't be such humiliation and violence against people experiencing homelessness! Awareness and education on homelessness can change that, and your support in funding Invisible People is breaking wrong stereotypes and changing how tens of millions of lives view homeless individuals.
DID YOU KNOW that Invisible People is the only national awareness and educational campaign on homelessness? Just turn on the TV and you'll see anti-smoking ads, don't text and drive videos are all over the internet, and causes from the need to recycle to global warming are everywhere we look, and they should be. But except for Invisible People, there are zero campaigns teaching the general public about homelessness.
This year I turn 53 years-old. 53 is kind of a weird number and most birthday campaigns ask for donations based on the age. I get that, but if you would like to donate $53 million or $53,000, or even $5,300 please do. Of course I am being a little funny. The truth is $5, $10, $25, $53 - any and every amount counts. This is the one campaign that fuels Invisible People throughout the year and we desperately need your support to help end homelessness.
Oliver Campbell, a young black man with learning difficulties, was convicted in 1991 for the murder of Baldee Hoondle, an off -licence owner, during a robbery in North East London in July 1990.
He was released on life licence in 2002.
BBC’s Rough Justice programme “If the Cap Fits” shown on January 6th 2002 presented clear evidence that Oliver’s prosecution and conviction were a miscarriage of justice. The Guardian’s Peter Lennon also wrote an article on January 1st 2002. The programme showed how the police abused their power with regards to a person with learning difficulties. “If the Cap Fits” also showed that a crucial piece of evidence was a baseball cap dropped by the murderer as he ran from the off-licence. Oliver’s fingerprints were not found at the scene and hairs from the cap were not his. Not one shred of forensic evidence was found linking Oliver to the scene. Experts presented testimony that the gunman shot the shopkeeper with his right hand. Oliver is left handed. At the Identity Parade, neither of the two witnesses picked out Oliver as the man in the cap. The two robbers were said to be between 5 feet 10 inches and 5 feet 11 inches tall. Oliver stands at 6 feet 3 inches. Oliver’s co-accused, convicted for 5 years for robbery, gave a statement to the police naming another man as the murderer. This evidence was not disclosed to the defence nor presented in court. Oliver’s conviction was based wholly on a confession extracted in the absence of his solicitor and following false claims made by police that his hairs were found in the baseball cap and his fingerprints were found at the scene.
Ever since the “confession” Oliver has consistently protested his innocence.
He has spent 11 years in prison on the basis of a confession that contradicts the forensic and witness evidence.
Despite overwhelming evidence that Oliver Campbell is innocent of this terrible crime the Criminal Cases Review Commision rejected Oliver’s appeal in 2005.
On the 10th December 2013 it will be 22 years to the day that Oliver was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. He has been fighting for justice and to clear his name ever since.
Please share this blog to highlight and support his campaign for justice.