Monday, October 12, 2015

Prosecutor laments role in wrongful death row conviction

It was 1983 in Shreveport, Louisiana, when a local jeweler had been robbed and murdered. Quickly, the prosecutor on the case, Marty Stroud, was convinced he had the man who did it, Glenn Ford.

The evidence against Ford was circumstantial. The jury quickly came back with a guilty verdict and sentenced Ford to death. Last year after Ford spent three decades in a maximum-security prison, it was discovered that the state convicted the wrong man.

Now, the former prosecutor in the case confesses to his role in sending the wrong man to death row.

Stroud now says he ignored evidence suggesting others were involved in the murder. "I should have followed up on that. I didn't do that. I think my failure to say something can only be described as cowardice. I was a coward," he tells Whitaker. "I was arrogant, narcissistic, caught up in the culture of winning."

A remorseful Stroud says it's hard to live with the ugly truth. "I've got a hole in me through which the north wind blows. It's a sense of coldness, it's a sense of just disgust."

Ford didn't have much sympathy for Stroud, the man who forced him to live in fear of his own execution for 30 years. Asked whether he could forgive Stroud, he replied, "He didn't only take from me; he took from my whole family... I don't [forgive him]. But I'm still trying to."

In a cruel twist, when Glenn Ford filed for compensation of $330,000 for his wrongful imprisonment to the State of Louisiana, the state stepped in to deny it. They are arguing that under the state's law even if Ford may have not committed the murder but to get any compensation for his wrongful imprisonment, the burden of proof is on Ford to prove that he is also innocent of all the other things he was accused of during the original trial.

"What law is this? I never heard of such law where it says it's OK to do what they did to me without any type of compensation," said Ford in one of his last interviews before he died without receiving any compensation.

Dale Cox, the current acting district attorney of Caddo Parish, said he did his job. "I got him out of jail as quickly as I could. That's what the obligation of the state is," he tells Whitaker.

He agrees that what happened to Ford is not fair, but maintains it was not illegal. "I'm not in the compassion business, none of us as prosecutors or defense lawyers are in the compassion business. I think the ministry is in the compassion business. We're in the legal business," says Cox.

Original report here

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