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View Full Version : Inmate freed after 28 years! Yo, death penalty fans?


wantafanta
17-12-09, 00:50
I've heard all the arguments before - too many appeals, it takes too long to carry out a sentence, we don't want to pay to house convicts, it deters crime.
So tell me one more time -- concisely,---- why this man should have been put to death.

(They gave the guy a whopping $75 - about $3 for each year of his life served!)

http://www.sphere.com/nation/article/dna-clears-donald-eugene-gates-who-served-28-years/19283452?icid=main|htmlws-main-n|dl1|link1|http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sphere.com%2Fnation%2 Farticle%2Fdna-clears-donald-eugene-gates-who-served-28-years%2F19283452

DNA Clears Man Who Served 28 Years

WASHINGTON (Dec. 16) -- A man who spent 28 years behind bars for a rape and murder he said he didn't commit walked out of a federal prison in Arizona on Tuesday with $75 and a bus ticket to Ohio after DNA testing showed he was innocent.

The conviction of Donald Eugene Gates, 58, was based largely on the testimony of an FBI forensic analyst whose work later came under fire and a hair analysis technique that has been discredited.

"I feel beautiful," Gates told The Associated Press by telephone after leaving the U.S. penitentiary in Tucson, Ariz.

Just hours before, the same judge who had presided over Gates' trial years ago in D.C. Superior Court ordered his release.

Prosecutors had agreed Gates should be released. However, at their request, Senior Judge Fred B. Ugast delayed Gates' formal exoneration until next week to give the government a chance to conduct one more round of DNA testing.

Ben Friedman, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, said Gates would be the first D.C. defendant who spent significant time in prison to be exonerated based on DNA evidence.

Gates was convicted of the 1981 rape and murder of Catherine Schilling, a 21-year-old Georgetown University student, in Washington's Rock Creek Park. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

But the conviction was based largely on the testimony of FBI hair analyst Michael P. Malone, whose work came under fire in 1997. At that time, the FBI's inspector general found that Malone gave false testimony in proceedings that led to the impeachment and ouster of U.S. District Judge Alcee Hastings in 1989.

Ugast was incredulous that prosecutors had failed to inform him after Malone's work was called into question. He ordered the U.S. attorney's office to review all its cases in which Malone testified -- something he said should have been done earlier.

Sandra K. Levick, one of Gates' attorneys from the D.C. Public Defender Service, said she came across the inspector general's report while doing her own research for the case. She then obtained more information through a Freedom of Information Act request that showed the FBI had issued warnings about the work of Malone and 12 other analysts who were criticized by the inspector general. As part of a review requested by the FBI, prosecutors confirmed they had relied on Malone's work to obtain Gates' conviction.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan Draper said she was unaware of the problems with Malone's testimony until the defense filed its motion this month seeking to have Gates' conviction thrown out.

Based on Malone's report, prosecutors had claimed hairs taken from Gates and hairs found on the victim were "microscopically indistinguishable."

Even leaving aside the allegations against Malone, the technique he relied on -- microscopic hair analysis -- has been discredited, Levick said. She cited a 2009 report by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences that said there was "no scientific support" for using hair comparisons for identification.

Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, said judges, as well as prosecutors, need to be informed when crime lab analyses are called into question.

"The important part of all these exoneration cases is to learn lessons from them," he said.

Gates asked for and got DNA testing in 1988. However, the DNA sample available at the time was insufficient to draw any conclusions with the technology then available.

Gates' lawyers arranged for a University of Arizona law professor to meet him Tuesday and take him to the bus station after his release. Gates, who is from Akron, Ohio, said he planned to reunite with family in his home state.

If the judge exonerates Gates as expected, he will likely be entitled to compensation for the time spent in prison. As a former federal prisoner, he may be entitled to compensation under federal law, which provides $50,000 per year of incarceration. The District of Columbia has its own compensation statute, which leaves the amount up to the court.

Gates said he prayed for his release and never doubted it would come.

"My faith in God is very strong," he said.

The one-time construction worker said he had no immediate plans.

"It's all coming at me so fast," he said. "I gotta think on it."

Later, at a stop in Phoenix, Gates said he wasn't ready to talk about his conviction, his years in prison or the justice system. He did say he wanted to see America's countryside on the bus ride home.

"I'm going to go back to my family and start my life over," he said.

Associated Press writer Jacques Billeaud contributed to this report in Phoenix.
Filed under: Nation, Crime
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

tranniversary119
17-12-09, 00:53
75 freaking dollars for 28 years? Are you kidding me? That's so ridiculous :rolleyes: Oh after skimming through it I saw the 50,000$ part

If the judge exonerates Gates as expected, he will likely be entitled to compensation for the time spent in prison. As a former federal prisoner, he may be entitled to compensation under federal law, which provides $50,000 per year of incarceration. The District of Columbia has its own compensation statute, which leaves the amount up to the court.
They better freaking give him more money!

Ikas90
17-12-09, 00:57
This kind of stuff depresses me.

No amount of money can make up for the time that he had to serve.

Paddy
17-12-09, 00:58
28 years is a ****ing long time to be in pris when you were innocent.

jjbennett
17-12-09, 01:00
It is my personal thought that the death penalty should be reserved for cases of extreme violence or sexual abuse where there is no doubt what so ever who committed the crime.

I can't help but feel sorry for the guy, 28 years of his life gone, i just hope that he can build a new one and enjoy whats left of it poor chap.

Paddy
17-12-09, 01:02
I agree death penalty should only be used as an option where they have absolute 100% proof of the person who did the sickening crime.
But on the flip side they couldve employed that on this guy and he wouldve been killed for something he didnt do.

freeze10108
17-12-09, 01:07
I've heard all the arguments before - too many appeals, it takes too long to carry out a sentence, we don't want to pay to house convicts, it deters crime.
So tell me one more time -- concisely,---- why this man should have been put to death.


I don't think that he should have been sentenced to be put to death. I do support the death penalty, but only when the crime committed was especially heinous and there is concrete, irrefutable evidence that this person standing accused committed the crime, no ifs ands or buts about it.

If they admitted to it, the death penalty is still on the table, and they committed a grossly horrible crime (like the murder of a family and the rape of the children) then I believe that they deserve the death penalty.

If there is no concrete evidence, the prosecutors had damn well better make sure that some sort of DNA testing is done to ensure the convicted truly was guilty.

peeves
17-12-09, 01:10
28 years in the slammer for a crime he didn't commit? Why was he plead guilty in the first place for something he didn't do? the death penalty should be forbidden everywhere in the US and Europe.

da tomb raider!
17-12-09, 01:18
I feel sorry for the guy. It must be horrible to serve any amount of time in jail when innocent, let alone 28 years. Still, he seems optimistic about things right now, so hopefully he'll be able to make the best out of the rest of his life.

And regarding the death penalty, I agree that it probably shouldn't have been used 28 years ago. Of course, forensic techniques have improved a heck of a lot over the last 28 years, so I don't think that they should be abolished today. They should, however, only be used in the most severe of crimes (murder without a good reason, and multiple rapes, namely), and of course the suspect in question should have a lot of evidence against them.

Ward Dragon
17-12-09, 01:46
The previous death penalty thread is only a few weeks old:

http://www.tombraiderforums.com/showthread.php?t=161258