In 2006, Drew Whitley of Braddock, PA was cleared of a second-degree murder charge with help from The Innocence Institute of Point Park University. He had served over sixteen years for the murder of McDonald’s manager Noreen Malloy, though DNA later proved that, as in so many other cases, Whitley had been misidentified at the scene and the perpetrator’s blood and hair found on clothing left at the scene could not have belonged to him.
Now 54, Whitley is appealing a federal ruling that Allegheny County and six former homicide detectives can’t be held liable for violating his civil rights. Whitley had sued in 2007 for compensation, alleging that investigators had discriminated against him based on race and that he was denied a fair trial. However, U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti ruled against him, stating that though the investigation had been “reckless,” at the time of Whitley’s 1989 trial there was no precedent that stated that reckless investigations violated the Constitution.
Whitley’s attorney, Lawrence Fisher, filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. He says Whitley is disabled and can’t work due to the effects of his incarceration. Again, cases like these point to why Pennsylvania and the 23 other states that don’t have exoneree compensation laws on the books, as well as many other states where laws are restrictive or insufficient, can help those who have been falsely convicted to rebuild their lives instead of putting them into another court battle and taxing the legal system at the same time.