30 March 2011
USA: Former Death Row Inmate Compensation Denied After 14 Years Of Wrongful Imprisonment
At just 35 years old John Thompson believed he was about to have his wrists strapped onto a table, he would listen as the executioner would ring the governor just in case there had been a stay of execution, if not a series of concoctions would be injected into his veins until he died.
While the prospect of death must have been hard enough to cope with, what made it infinitely more unpalatable was that the young man was innocent of the crime he believed he was about to die for.
That was May 1999. Four years later a jury would take just a few minutes to review John Thompson case, and the next day he walked away from death row a free man.
Living on death row Thompson had face 7 execution dates.
His life since 1987 he had been existing in a tiny cell, with just one hours escape to an exercise yard. Condemned to death in a New Orleans prison he ate amongst 42 other men who faced the same fate, 12 of his friends were put to death during his incarseration.
Thompson was arrested for the murder of a wealthy hotel executive, Ray Liuzza
who was shot 5 times in what appeared to be a robbery. Witnesses claimed they heard Liuzza begging not to be shot and offering his possessions, his wallet and his watch.
As police held him as he died, Liuzza was reported to have asked, “why did he have to shoot me?” according to Truth In Justice.
In the same town a young Thompson was known to police. As a father of two he struggled to make ends meet, and substituted his minimum wage by selling stolen goods.
There was one piece of jewelry that came into his hands that changed his life forever, it was the ring of Ray Liuzza, the man who had been murdered.
This was enough for a jury to convict Thompson of murder.
Yet in 2003 another significant piece of evidence was presented to a jury in a retrial of Thompson’s case. Blood, which didn’t match Thompson’s was found on the victim’s trousers. This vital evidence was reported to have been suppressed by prosecution lawyers in the original trial.
Adding to the evidence to exonerate Thompson was a new witness who testified that she had seen the man responsible for Liuzza’s murder, and it was not Thompson.
Over a decade of living under a death threat, facing execution, wrongly accused yesterday a Supreme Court ruled that John Thompson was not entitled to claim compensation against the New Orleans District Attorney.
A lower court had already awarded Thomspon $14 million, yet based on an appeal to the Supreme Court it was ruled that prosecutors had not been guilty of “deliberate indifference”.
Now an advocate for social change and justice it seems that Thompson has just one more injustice to add to his list.
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