Yesterday, 9 years and 17 days after he was convicted of a crime he had nothing to do with, Donte Rollins walked free. In a stunning turn of events, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania reversed a trial court’s denial of Mr. Rollins’ post-conviction petition. Even though the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office agreed with us that Donte deserved a new trial and should have been released, the trial court refused to accept the agreement, continued the case over and over to hear from irrelevant witnesses, and ultimately denied relief. It took an emergency application to the Superior Court to fix. The Court ordered Donte’s case be remanded immediately, and that his conviction be vacated and he be released within 48 hours of the order.
When we went to court the next day, the trial judge did precisely what the Superior Court ordered him to do: reversed Donte’s conviction and ordered him placed on house arrest. But when the DA moved to withdraw all charges, the judge refused to hear the motion. Instead, everyone involved had to go to another courtroom where Judge Scott DiClaudio quickly granted the motion, setting Donte free. Five hours later, Donte walked out of the courthouse into the arms of his mother.
The Philadelphia District Attorney and Marissa Bluestine, PA Innocence Project Legal Director, discussed the case on a morning news show. Even the DA agreed with “would not have been possible” for Donte to have participated in the shooting. While not saying the word, “innocent,” he did emphasize the right thing had been finally done.
WELCOME HOME, DONTE!!