Wrongful Convictions

Raye of Hope

Abolish the Death Penalty

"'An eye for an eye' leaves the whole world blind." OCADP

As part of our mission at Raye of Hope, we are working alongside the Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty to ensure that no more innocent people are put to death. Some of us share the view that only God has the authority to decide when a person's life should be taken, and to us, a death sentence is murder. We all believe our system is broken and a broken system should not have the authority to decide if a person should live or die.

Pleas for mercy - Don Gilson - Clemency Granted 4-14-09 by the pardon and parole board - he was put to death by Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry on May 14, 2009.  

According to deathpenaltyinfo.org, 8 Oklahomans have been exonerated from death row as of August, 2008. DEATH ROW! These are stories of PEOPLE who were on death row in OKLAHOMA and were released. Please read their stories.

Charles Ray Giddens Oklahoma Conviction: 1978, Charges Dismissed: 1981 *
Giddens, an 18-year-old black man, was convicted for the murder of a grocery store cashier primarily on the testimony of Johnnie Gray, who claimed he accompanied Giddens to the murder scene. Although Gray was never indicted, Giddens was sentenced to death after an all white jury deliberated for only 15 minutes. Giddens conviction and death sentence reversed by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, which found Gray's testimony was unreliable and the evidence against Giddens insufficient. (Giddens v. State, No. F-78-164 (Ct. of Crim. App., 11/17/81)) The charges against Giddens were dropped.

Clifford Henry Bowen Oklahoma Conviction: 1981, Charges Dismissed: 1986
Bowen was incarcerated in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary under three death sentences for over five years when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit finally overturned his conviction in 1986. The Court held that prosecutors in the case failed to disclose information about another suspect, Lee Crowe, and that had the defense known of the Crowe materials, the result of the trial would probably have been different. Crowe resembled Bowen, had greater motive, no alibi, and habitually carried the same gun and unusual ammunition as the murder weapon. Bowen, on the other hand, maintained his innocence, provided twelve alibi witnesses to confirm that he was 300 miles from the crime scene just one hour prior to the crime, and could not be linked by any physical evidence to the crime. (Bowen v. Maynard, 799 F.2d 593 (10th Cir. 1986) and Oklahoma Publishing Co., 7/31/87).
Read "Cowboy Bob..." by Ken Armstrong in The Chicago Tribune

Richard Neal Jones Oklahoma Convicted 1983 Acquitted 1988
Jones was sentenced to death in Oklahoma in 1983. Jones maintains that he was passed out while his three co-defendants murdered Charles Keene. On appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma remanded the case for retrial. The Court held the jury was prejudiced by the improper admission of hearsay testimony and inflammatory photographs. The Court also agreed with Jones' assertion that the case should be remanded on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct. Moreover, the Court held, the case was not one in which Jones' guilt was "overwhelming" and that Jones' involvement was disputed by the evidence. (Jones v. State, 738 P.2d 525 (Okla. crim. app. 1987) and Oklahoma Publishing Co., 1/18/88).

Gregory R. Wilhoit Oklahoma Conviction: 1987, Acquitted: 1993
Convicted of killing his estranged wife while she slept. His conviction was overturned and he was released in 1991 when 11 forensic experts testified that a bite mark found on his dead wife did not belong to him. The appeals court also found ineffective assistance of counsel. He was acquitted at a retrial in April, 1993. (Wilhoit v. State, 816 P.2d 545 (Okla. Crim. App. 1991) and The Daily Oklahoman, 4/1/93).
Read "My Nightmare: An Interview with Greg Wilhoit" by Ira Saletan

Robert Lee Miller, Jr. Oklahoma Conviction: 1988, Charges Dismissed: 1998*
Miller was convicted of the rape and murder of two elderly women in 1988. In 1995, Miller's original conviction was overturned and he was granted a new trial when DNA evidence pointed to another suspect who was already incarcerated on similar charges. In February, 1997, Oklahoma County Special Judge Larry Jones dismissed the charges against Miller, saying that there was not enough evidence to justify his continued imprisonment. One month later, Oklahoma County District Judge Karl Gray reinstated the charges in response to an appeal by the District Attorney's office; however, the prosecution ultimately decided to drop all charges and Miller was released. (Barry Scheck, et al., Actual Innocence (Doubleday 2000) and The Daily Oklahoman, 3/1/97).
Read "When the Evidence Lies" by Belinda Luscombe in Time Magazine

Ronald Keith Williamson Oklahoma Conviction: 1988, Charges Dismissed: 1999
Ronald Williamson and Dennis Fritz were charged with the murder and rape of Deborah Sue Carter, which occurred in Ada, Oklahoma in 1982. They were arrested four years after the crime. Both were convicted and Williamson received the death penalty. In 1997, a federal appeals court overturned Williamson's conviction on the basis of ineffectiveness of counsel (Williamson v. Ward, 110 F.3d 1508 (10th Cir. 1997) aff'g 904 F. Supp. 1529 (E. D. OK 1995)). The Court noted that the lawyer had failed to investigate and present to the jury the fact that another man had confessed to the crime. The lawyer had been paid a total of $3,200 for the defense. Recently, DNA tests from the crime scene did not match either Williamson or Fritz, but did implicate Glen Gore, a former suspect in the case. All charges against the two defendants were dismissed on April 15, 1999 and they were released. Williamson suffers from bipolar depression and has been hospitalized for treatment. (Daily Oklahoman, 3/18/99 and New York Times 4/16/99).
Read "Life After Death Row" by Sara Rimer in The New York Times Magazine
See Frontline: Burden of Innocence by PBS ---- Williamson is currently deceased

Curtis Edward McCarty Oklahoma Conviction: 1986, Charges Dismissed: 2007
McCarty, who had been sentenced to die three times and has spent 21 years on death row for a crime he did not commit, has been released after District Court Judge Twyla Mason Gray ordered that the charges against him be dismissed. Gray ruled that the case against McCarty was tainted by the questionable testimony of former police chemist Joyce Gilchrist, who gave improper expert testimony about semen and hair evidence during McCarty's trial. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said his office will not appeal Gray's decision. According to the New York-based Innocence Project, an organization that assisted McCarty in his efforts to prove his innocence, during McCarty’s first two trials, Gilchrist falsely testified that hairs and other biological evidence showed that McCarty could have been the killer. In both trials, the juries convicted him and he was sentenced to death. In Gilchrist’s original notes, hairs from the crime scene did not match McCarty. She then changed her notes to say the hairs did match him. When the defense requested retesting, the hairs were lost. A judge has said Gilchrist either destroyed or willfully lost the hairs. DNA testing in recent years has also shown that another person raped the victim. McCarty's has maintained his innocence since his arrest.
(The Oklahoman, May 11, 2007 and The Innocence Project)