Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Virginia man to receive state compensation for wrongful conviction

A bill approved by state legislators last week will compensate a Hampton man for seven years he spent in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Teddy Pierries Thompson maintained his innocence in a 2000 robbery, but was convicted after being identified by one of two victims, according to the bill which passed the General Assembly. Thompson was 17 at the time of his arrest.

Thompson said he had rented time at a Virginia Beach recording studio the night of the robbery and produced a receipt in court. The other robbery victim testified at a pretrial hearing that Thompson was not the man who robbed him. Thompson was convicted in 2001 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. He continued to fight the conviction in court.

In 2007, a Hampton judge vacated Thompson's conviction because the witness who identified him said he'd made a mistake, according to the bill. Thompson will receive more than $50,000 in a lump sum, plus an annuity of more than $207,000 to be paid monthly to him for 25 years. He also will receive up to $10,000 in tuition costs for college or technical training. Thompson will receive the money after Gov. Timothy M. Kaine signs the bill.

Original report here


Thompson, who went to prison in 2001 at age 18, was freed Monday, two months after Antonio Mitchell recanted and told law enforcement officials he'd identified the wrong person. Thompson had served more than six years in prison, and could have served at least 10 more. Thompson said he harbors no bitterness toward Mitchell, who once said he was "100 percent sure" Thompson was one of two men who robbed him and a friend at gunpoint on March 26, 2000.

On July 30, Mitchell told investigators that another man has since acknowledged being the robber, and even offered to return the money he took. Investigators who interviewed him believe Mitchell was being truthful in recanting his identification of Thompson. "I know people make mistakes," Thompson said of Mitchell.

He's not as forgiving when it comes to the criminal justice system. Thompson said Hampton detectives were quick to target him, and that the jury went with the word of one person over strong counter evidence in Thompson's favor. "I have nothing against the jury, but you're supposed to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," he said. In this case, he asserts, there should have been lots of doubt - especially since he had witnesses and documentation placing him at a Virginia Beach recording studio at the time of the robbery.

Doubt should also have been raised, Thompson said, when the other robbery victim said Thompson was the wrong man. Although a written statement from that victim was allowed in court, that victim failed to show on two scheduled trial dates.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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