Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Four Vindicated Meet in San Jose

The photo above shows four men --all vindicated from death row-- who attended the National Coalition Against the Death Penalty annual conference in San Jose. Be sure to see Ron Keine's Report on SAN JOSE and Ron's BIO just below the report. Here are short BIOS for the other four men. For even more details on the lives of these four brave souls and others go to

Ron Keine, Shujaa Graham, Greg Wilhout, Curtis McCarty

Shujaa Graham
Shujaa Graham was born in Lake Providence, Louisiana, where he grew up on a plantation. At the age of 18, he was sent to Soledad Prison. In prison, Shujaa became part of the prison activist movement. In 1973,Shujaa was targeted and framed in the murder of a prison guard at the Deul Vocational Institute in Stockton, California. The community became involved in his defense and supported him throughout four trials. In 1979, the California Supreme Court overturned the death conviction. Finally, Shujaa won his freedom and affirmed his innocence in spite of the system and was released in March 1981. In the years following his release, Shujaa moved away from the Bay Area,learned landscaping and created his own business. He lectures frequently on the death penalty, the criminal justice system, incarceration and innocence, and racism in America. “I’m filled with ideals that would make life better for all humanity, that’s my struggle,” Shujaa says. “That’s going to be my struggle until I die.

Greg Wilhoit
Greg Wilhoit grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma in an average, middle class, Christian family. In 1983 he married Kathy Godwin. They had two daughters. Greg loved his family, but in May 1985 he and Kathy separated to try and work out some problems. Kathy and their daughters, Krissy and Kim moved into an apartment across town, but Greg saw them almost daily. On June 1, 1985 Kathy was found brutally murdered in her apartment. Greg was home alone sleeping, so he had no alibi. Almost a year later, Greg was stunned when he was unexpectedly arrested and charged with Kathy’s murder. The lawyers that were hired and paid did sloppy work and finally Greg fired them. Greg located a lawyer with a reputation for being one of the best in the country. Yet, unbeknownst to Greg or his parents, they found out too late that this attorney had become an alcoholic and had developed alcohol-related brain damage. He embodied the definition of an incompetent attorney and did no preparation whatsoever for Greg’s trial. He appeared in court drunk, threw up in the judge’s chambers, and literally put on no defense. Since the jury basically only heard the prosecution’s case, Greg was found guilty and sentenced to death. At the sentencing, Greg said, “The judge told me I was to die by lethal injection. ‘If that fails we’ll electrocute you. If the power goes out, we’ll hang you. And if the rope breaks we’ll take you out back and shoot you.’” Eventually,the 12 top forensic odontologists in the country examined the bite mark evidence and all 12 testified that the bite mark could not possibly have been Greg’s. A new trial was eventually granted and in 1983 Greg was finally cleared of all guilt. He has never received an apology or one penny in compensation. Despite challenges such as post-traumatic stress symptoms,Greg has found that sharing his story about the horrors of the death penalty and the fallibility of the justice system gives him a purpose and will contribute to the abolition of the death penalty.

Curtis McCarty
After 21 Years in Prison – including 16 on Death Row –
Curtis McCarty is Exonerated Based on DNA Evidence. He was released from an Oklahoma prison May 11, 2007. Oklahoma City case is one of the worst cases of government misconduct in the history of the American criminal justice system, Innocence Project says
Curtis Edward McCarty was convicted twice and sentenced to death for the same murder in verdicts that were both thrown out based on evidence of his innocence and an extraordinary pattern of government misconduct.

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