Three men who were imprisoned in 1983 for the shooting death of a 14-year-old boy are seeing the light of day after being exonerated 36 years to the month they were arrested.
As reported by The New York Times, Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart were arrested on Thanksgiving Day in 1983, accused of killing a junior high school student in Baltimore for his jacket. On Monday, all three men were released from prison and exonerated after spending the entirety of their adult lives behind bars.
Their release was made possible by Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office, who found that there were numerous errors in the case. Like the wrongful conviction unit founded in Brooklyn by the late Kenneth P. Thompson, Baltimore is in the process of reanalyzing old cases that the city deems questionable in the hopes of clearing the record of innocent men and women.
“My heart breaks for all three of these men, who must now reconcile that we live in a world that could take 36 years away from innocent men,” Mosby said during a press conference. “Today isn’t a victory. Today it’s a tragedy that these men had 36 years of their lives stolen.”
Chestnut, Watkins, and Stewart maintained their innocence from the time of their arrests. On Monday Mosby said the detective and prosecutor in 1983 coerced witnesses to say that they saw the men shoot DeWitt Duckett in the head with a .22-caliber. All witnesses have since recanted.
The Baltimore Sun reported that prosecutors for the SA’s office appeared on Monday in Baltimore Circuit Court to request that a judge throw out the three convictions and exonerate the men. Charles Peters, a Baltimore circuit court judge, accepted.
The suspected killer, who was 18 at the time of the shooting, is said to have died in a 2002 shooting.