Until he was executed in 1995, Larry Griffin insisted he was innocent of a drive-by murder in St. Louis. New disclosures support his claim, and St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce has reopened the case, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. A man wounded in the same drive-by shooting says Griffin was not involved. The first police officer on the scene has given a new account that undermines the testimony of the only witness who identified Griffin as a killer. A year-long investigation financed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund unearthed the disclosures.
Joyce has assigned two top lawyers to investigate the case as if it had just happened. the 19-year-old victim, a drug dealer, was murdered 25 years ago. Samuel Gross, a University of Michigan law professor who supervised the investigation, said Griffin’s case was the strongest yet of an execution of an innocent man. If true, it would give more credence to death penalty opponents who contend that because human beings make mistakes, the capital punishment system could produce deadly errors. As Congress considers streamlining federal appeals of state-imposed death sentences. Joshua Marquis, a board member of the National District Attorneys Association, says death penalty opponents cannot point to a single case in which a demonstrably innocent person has been executed in the modern history of U.S. capital punishment. Gordon Ankney, who prosecuted Griffin, believes the conviction was justified.