On March 2, 1992, police found Valerie Finley, a 29-year-old mother of two, lying on the bedroom floor of her home in Prichard, AL, a suburb of Mobile. She was propped up on a pile of clothes, bleeding from a bullet wound to the head
Finley survived long enough after the shooting to identify a friend of her husband Mike—Rodney Stanberry—as one of the assailants.
Stanberry, a garbage truck operator, said he was innocent. At his trial three years later, he showed the jury route reports from his job as a garbage truck operator — time-stamped and signed by several other people — that accounted for where he was, almost down to the minute, on the morning of the crime. He told a plausible story about what really happened; and the testimony of more than a half-dozen people supported that story.
But the dying woman's identification clinched his conviction—even though every piece of objective information besides Finley's testimony supported Stanberry’s claim that he was an innocent man.
He has spent the last 17 years behind bars. With no DNA to analyze, and an appeals process that values proper procedure over the facts of the case, there is no way for Stanberry to prove his innocence.
Beth Schwartzapfel, a Boston-based writer and freelance journalist investigated the case as part of a partnership between The Boston Review and The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. To read her complete story, published by The Investigative Fund on March 19, 2013, please click here.