If the state of North Carolina had its way, Jones, 49, would have been strapped to a gurney years ago, hooked to an IV and pumped full of a lethal, three-drug cocktail until he asphyxiated.
Instead, on May 2, he walked out of prison a free man after spending 13 years on death row, and another 24 months locked up awaiting retrial -- all for a murder he almost certainly did not commit.
Jones -- known to friends and family as "Bo" -- was released with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) Capital Punishment Project after the prosecution's star witness recanted her testimony against him. (Lovely Lorden, a former girlfriend, admitted she'd collected $4,000 in reward money in exchange for testifying against Jones.)[...]
The prosecution felt little obligation to question the veracity of Lorden's claim. And if the witness is to be believed today, investigators actually helped her keep her story straight.
As a result of Lorden's testimony -- and despite the lack of physical evidence tying him to the crime -- a jury convicted Jones in 1993 and he was sentenced to die for Grady's killing.
What Jones' attorneys didn't know at the time -- and, as it turns out, didn't really bother trying to uncover -- is that Lovely Lorden had made something of a career out of testifying against people close to her. By her own admission, she has aided law enforcement in dozens of investigations and says she helped police make cases against several other boyfriends, as well as her own brother and sons.
What's more, her work as a confidential informant didn't stop after Jones was sent to death row. Jones' attorneys sent In These Times copies of receipts that show Lorden was paid money at least seven times for her work as a confidential informant from December 2003 to April 2004, while Jones sat in jail.
Today, Lorden contends she testified against Jones under pressure from the police, in particular Dalton Jones (no relation), the lead officer in the case.[...]
Unfortunately, the case of Levon Jones is not an anomaly. He is the fifth death row prisoner to be exonerated in the past year. Since December, North Carolina alone has released three inmates from death row after it was determined that they did not commit the crimes for which they were convicted. Of these three men, two, including Jones, were convicted on the false testimony of snitches.[...]
Unfortunately this article is way to long to quote all of it in here but I would really recommend to read all of this really interesting, informing and educating article at alternet.org
Please also read the answer of Ron Keine - an exoneree himself - to this article which I posted as a comment to this post