Poor Innocents Railroaded and Given the Death Penalty?
. . . and account of how one Roger Coleman in Virginia was supposedly railroaded by a corrupt and biased justice system and executed, in spite of being innocent.
Wanda Fay McCoy was raped and murdered on the night of March 10, 1981, while waiting at home for her husband. Understandably, tiny Buchanan County, Virginia, was shaken to its roots. Public outrage was intense, and the pressure to arrest a suspect fierce.Read the rest of the article, which is typical of claims of innocence made by the anti-death penalty advocates.
Police theorized that the crime had been committed by someone known to Mrs. McCoy since they reported no evidence of forced entry. Her husband named three men who might have been freely admitted into the house by his wife. Within a day, investigators had targeted Mrs. McCoy’s brother-in-law, Roger Keith Coleman, as the prime suspect.
Despite this near-immediate focus on Coleman, he was not arrested for weeks. The evidence gathered did not support the theory. Among other things, not one witness could place Mr. Coleman anywhere near the McCoy house on the night of the murder, and several witnesses could place him elsewhere.
Without a single piece of evidence linking Coleman to the crime, the prosecution miraculously got what it needed for conviction: an alleged jailhouse confession to a fellow inmate. Mr. Coleman had been placed in a cell with career criminal Roger Matney who came forward to allege, conveniently, that Coleman had confessed to him.
That was enough for the jury (one of whose members having since admitted that he wanted to serve to “help burn the S.O.B.” ) On March 19, 1982, they sentenced Roger Coleman to death. Acknowledging that the case against him was “entirely circumstantial,” the Virginia Supreme Court upheld both Coleman’s conviction and the death sentence.
From the very beginning, Mr. Coleman has maintained his innocence. Now, long after his conviction, the state’s case against him has come apart.
But guess what?
DNA testing, using technology that was unavailable when Coleman was executed in 1992, has found that Coleman was in fact guilty.
A good thing to remember when evaluating the claims of death penalty opponents.