Witness Tried to Recant, but LAPD Wouldn’t Listen: Innocent Man Served 19 Yrs as a Result
In 1993 rival gangs in LA had a shootout in which one person was killed and one person was injured. Shortly therafter a man was picked up and charged with the shootings. This man was John Edward Smith a gang member that lived close to where the shootings occurred. Smith denied committing the crimes and produced an alibi for the time that the incident occurred but the LAPD produced a witness that said otherwise. The witness, who was one of the gang bangers injured in the shooting identified Smith as the shooter, gave the prosecution an air-tight case.
Two years later in 1995, John Edward Smith was convicted of the murder and attempted murder that had occurred in 1993 by a jury in Los Angeles after 3 hours of deliberation. He was then sentenced to life in prison and began serving his sentence, although he maintained that he was innocent throughout the 2 year process that lead to his conviction.
His alibi was that he was with his girlfriend, and a couple other friends at his grandmother’s house miles away from the incident. His grandmother even mortgaged the house to get him proper representation, but to no avail.
Smith never gave up on the thought that he would one day go free so he continued to maintain his innocence over the decades and contact different groups to get help. The Innocence Project turned him down but 3 years ago, Innocence Matters accepted his plea and started looking into the case. They quickly found out that the star witness for the prosecutor had lied on the stand and that he had gone to LAPD internal affairs twice after he fingered Smith as the shooter to recant his statement, but no-one listened. But now that Innocence Matters was on the case people were finally listening.
After 3 years of advocating for a dismissal of all charges, John Edward Smith was finally released from prison on Monday 9/24/2012 after 19 years behind bars. His grandmother who was waiting outside waiting was quoted as saying “There was a part of me that was in there too,” “I am free now”! And so is John, finally!
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