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Student Case Update: 32 Years Later, Still Crying for Freedom

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A minor trying to get over the death of his mother had his life turned upside down when he was arrested for a crime he did not commit. A 17-year-old boy was accused of and eventually convicted for the murder and robbery of a newsstand operator. The murder and robbery involved a newspaper man who ran a lottery machine on a North Philadelphia street corner.

Around 4:30am on January 20, 1981, some men jumped, robbed, and shot the victim in the front yard of his home. He was robbed of a week’s worth of lottery proceeds which was estimated to be over $10,000. At trial, a jailhouse snitch and one eyewitness tied the boy to the murder, and the jury convicted him of second degree murder, robbery, and criminal conspiracy in Philadelphia County on July 16, 1982.  Two years later, he was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment without parole.

Thirty-two years later and that boy, now a middle-aged man, is still proclaiming his innocence. At trial no physical evidence tied him to the crime. Additionally no evidence was tested to exclude or include his involvement with the tragic murder of the victim. Both witnesses that testified to the young boy’s involvement have since recanted their statements.

Today efforts are being made by the PA Innocence Project to review the case fully and determine whether that boy was at all involved. While most would be vehemently frustrated and upset with the injustice that has been served, our potential client simply states “I would give up my chance for freedom if I could prevent someone from going through what I have…”

~Charmane Martin, Temple University Beasley School of Law, Class of 2015

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