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Donty Sharp was exonerated after 24 years in prison.It wasn’t the end of his trials | US Judiciary System

Donty Sharp boasts an annual Thanksgiving turkey amnesty.

He is not against the turkey that escaped the butcher’s knife.That is, from where he sits, there is a much more urgent candidate for grace from the governor. North Carolina Than a bird.

Sharp watched Thanksgiving turkey amnesty on prison television for a quarter of a century. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1995 for a murder he did not commit.Even after he was Exemption When release In August 2019, the same governor who escaped the turkey had not yet pardoned him, so he was unable to reveal his name or claim compensation.

“Every time the governor forgives the turkey I think, we go there again,” Sharp told the Guardian at his home in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina. “I will laugh. There are people who need forgiveness, not turkeys.”

At this Thanksgiving, Sharp was finally able to avoid the annual turkey humiliation. On November 12, Roy Cooper, the incumbent Democratic Governor of North Carolina, told him. Innocent forgiveness – Make Sharpe completely free and eliminate the protracted judicial cloud for the first time in nearly 28 years.


NSHarp was 19 years old arrested on April 7, 1994, for the murder of a 33-year-old white man, George Radcliffe, who came to the overwhelmingly black neighborhood of a teenager in Greenville, North Carolina, for drugs. Given the toxic state of racial relations in the southern United States in the 1990s, white shooting in black areas was a perfect storm.

“Whites are killed in a black neighborhood, which was no no in North Carolina when I was growing up,” Sharp said. “Whites run the city. They are in power. So when the white was shot, everyone said it, even I said it:” The white Anyone who kills will pass through. “

Two months after the murder of Radcliffe, police arrested Sharp.was No forensic evidence Tie him to the shooting. The prosecution’s case relied almost entirely on the testimony of one witness, Charlene Johnson, who was 13 years old at the time of the murder and was recently discharged from a three-week stay in a mental hospital.

That fact was not disclosed to Sharp’s defense lawyer at the trial. There were also no forensic details about the location of Radcliffe’s body, which the prosecutor knew was inconsistent with Johnson’s eyewitness testimony.

A few years later, coroners testified that they knew these forensic details that would have told the jury that Johnson’s testimony was medically and virtually impossible. Johnson himself withdrew her statement, saying she wasn’t present at the crime scene, and created the story under pressure from detectives and with a $ 500 reward incentive.

At some point in his 25-year imprisonment process, Sharp was offered a judicial deal that would release him on the spot. He turned down each one.

“I didn’t kill, so I don’t say I killed just to get out of jail. I told my lawyer,” Don’t bring any other plea, I don’t accept it. ” Told.

So he kept fighting, False charge clinic At Duke University Law School, he wrote thousands of letters and submitted a Habeas petition. From time to time, he approached proving his innocence in court, but was only knocked back. But he never lost hope.

“I made a conscious effort that the prison would not destroy me, not like a prisoner, but grow up on the right path. I grew up there. It’s my world. It helped me change my view and learn how to sacrifice and hold your principles. Fight and don’t give up. “

Donty Sharp celebrated in August 2019 after the judge decided he could be released. Photo: Deborah Griffin / AP

Video included in BBC documentary In Sharp’s case, the judge ordered a new trial and the prosecutor dismissed all charges in 2019 in court. Sharp can be seen lying on the defendant’s desk, with his head in his hands and his shoulders sobbing and shaking.

What was he thinking at that moment?

“I couldn’t believe it. I was scared and scared. A new life. Returning to a new society. Only fear of the unknown.”

Within a few hours he became a free man. But his trials weren’t over.

Sharp is one of the hundreds of exonerated Americans released from prison, overturning their unlawful convictions and remaining trapped in the form of judicial limbs.according to National registration of exemption, 2,891 people have been exonerated in the United States since 1989, but for many, the struggle for justice continues even after the prison gates were opened.

After InnocenceA non-profit organization that has helped more than 800 prisoners in the United States since its liberation has pointed out zero compensation for condemned prisoners in 13 states, including Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Other states offer little compensation. In Wisconsin, the imprisonment is $ 5,000 per year and the limit is $ 25,000.

Some states have imposed amnesty traps, and prisoners who proved innocent until the judge was satisfied remain unlawfully convicted until a formal amnesty was issued. In Maine, all compensation will be withheld until the Governor grants an amnesty. Given that the ex-prisoner must seek amnesty for what he never did, it is the concept of Alice in Wonderland.

John Eldan, Founder and Director of After Innocence, said: “But under the current North Carolina compensation law, innocence is not enough for many exonys. You need to be amnesty at the Governor’s sole discretion.”

When Sharp left prison for 25 years, he realized that his destiny was entirely in the hands of the governor. In North Carolina, prisoners like Sharp, whose case was not addressed by the state’s Innocence Investigation Commission, are at the discretion of the governor.

For more than two years, Sharp had to endure the consequences. He was a free man, but because he had no amnesty, he had no right to claim compensation and had a hard time finding a job.

Future employees expressed anxiety about his overthrowing murder conviction and nevertheless immunity. While in prison, he ran a commissionary for 10 years and gained a reputation as a skilled and reliable store manager, but in the outside world he couldn’t even put inventory on warehouse shelves.

“The employer will ask me if I have a felony. I explain I was exonerated, but often people don’t listen to you. They don’t,” Sharp says. rice field.

I found it difficult to find my place. Real estate owners hesitated to rent to a man who was once classified as a felony.Intervention was needed Forward Justice, A nonpartisan legal center operating in the southern United States to secure his home.

Sharp said he has become accustomed to the limits of living as a free but relentless asylum seeker. But that frustrated him.

“It made me feel innocent that you are still worthless or worthless to society. I did nothing to commit murder in my record, but I still see It’s been done. When I was speaking, I felt like I wasn’t speaking. Like people weren’t listening to me, as I wasn’t even human. “

The final push of amnesty came in September when Rev T Anthony Spearman, president of the North Carolina NAACP, began to become known. Free Friday all night Outside the governor’s mansion. Be wary Rev. William Barber, Co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign.

The alliance continued to put pressure on Cooper until he gave Sharp a pardon. Despite the victory, Barber told the Guardian that no struggle should have been necessary.

“He should have been pardoned the same day after the court pardoned Donte. Innocent people have to wait years to clear their name and qualify for state compensation. No. North Carolina must end the amnesty system in which the Governor holds all power through a process that lacks transparency. “

Sharp said the amnesty would allow him to move on. It has a big economic impact. Given his many years of imprisonment, he can claim up to $ 750,000 in compensation. It wants to buy a home for her mother and use it to establish a foundation to support families devastated by illegal convictions.

Freedom Friday rally continues, urging the governor to pardon Other Exony I was caught in limbo.. Sharp, which is working with Forward Justice, who is currently campaigning for automatic amnesty in North Carolina, will be working with them.

But first there is Thanksgiving. He will celebrate at his mother’s house in Greenville. “I’m going to sit down and thank my family and mom because I didn’t know for a long time if I could be with them again.”

He is going to cook. “Probably fried turkey,” he said.

Donty Sharp was exonerated after 24 years in prison.It wasn’t the end of his trials | US Judiciary System

Source link Donty Sharp was exonerated after 24 years in prison.It wasn’t the end of his trials | US Judiciary System

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