In the United States, 43-year-old Shaurn Thomas was released from prison this week. He was sentenced to life in jail and spent almost 24 years behind the bars. His release was followed by many years of procedures and the discovery of a lost police file with several relieving statements.
Thomas had been given life because he had refused a so-called plea bargain. Through such a plea bargain you get a penalty reduction in exchange for a confession. However, Thomas refused to do this because he knew he was innocent.
Shaurn Thomas was convicted in 1994 of the murder of Domingo Martinez, who was on his way to deposit 25,000 dollars at his bank when he was murdered . According to the former prosecutors, Thomas was in the car of the shooter who shot Martinez. Thomas denied saying that he was on his way to a youth institution with his mother because he had recently tried to steal a motorcycle. The alibi of Thomas, a teenager back than, was not believed. He was sentenced on the basis of one witness statement, a co-suspect of the murder of Martinez. This co-accused confessed that he was an accomplice and received a short sentence of a couple of years by admitting guilt.
In 2009, Thomas’s case was picked up by the Pennsylvania Innocence Project and a law firm that provided free staff. That eventually led to the discovery of a 36-page lost police report, which contained various relieving witness statements. How the file was lost and how it was found is unknown.
Marissa Bluestine of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project said this in front of the press: ‘Everybody should feel ashamed that it took 24 years to get this man out of prison.’
Shaun can consider himself as one of the lucky ones. The Innocence project still believes there are hundreds of prisoners who are wrongly imprisoned.