Judges and juries are no less prone to mistakes than politicians, reporters, doctors, engineers or center fielders. Which is why the death penalty should be abolished.
Quintin Moss was 19 years old and a locally well-known drug dealer when he was shot 13 times in a drive-by attack on a notorious block in St. Louis known as "The Stroll." A bystander, Wallace Conners, was also shot but not seriously wounded.
Mr. Conners, who knew Larry Griffin, saw the men who drove up and opened fire. He said Mr. Griffin was not one of the men. But he was never called, either by the prosecution or the defense, to testify at Mr. Griffin's trial.
The key testimony was given by Robert Fitzgerald, a professional criminal who said he had witnessed the murder and identified Mr. Griffin as one of the shooters. Mr. Fitzgerald was in the federal witness protection program at the time. He had a number of felony charges pending and was an admitted user of heroin and speed.
A Missouri Supreme Court justice [in dissent] said of Mr. Fitzgerald: "The only eyewitness to the murder had a seriously flawed background, and his ability to observe and identify the gunman was also subject to question."
There was no physical evidence against Mr. Griffin, and no one else at the trial placed him at the scene of the attack. But he was convicted nevertheless, and executed by lethal injection on June 21, 1995.
While CNN props up figures like Nancy Grace to who'm the accused is always guilty, where is the media outrage that a man has been executed who was almost certainly not guilty of the crime for which he was convicted. The Death Penalty has been demonstrated not to deter crime, as Texas, the nation's leading executor has one of the highest violent crime rates, while New York, which has never executed an individual has a much lower violent crime rate. These two States are roughly the same size in population, and yet the one that executes the most has by far the higher violent crime rate. It has been demonstrated by study after study that the death penalty does not serve as a detterrant to violent crime. And yet we cling to this broken idea that the rest of the western world has tossed aside. We continue to cling to a broken idea that puts us in the company of countries with the worst human rights records in the world. We execute more people in the United States than any country but China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Do we really wish to be associated with these countries that have such terrible human rights records as these?
The complete report on Griffin can be found here.