Alabama Appeals Court Grants New Trial to Man Sentenced to Death Based on Flimsy Evidence

Affiliate: ACLU of Alabama
November 3, 2011 9:32 pm

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals today certified its September ruling that a new trial should be given to an African-American man represented by the American Civil Liberties Union whose conviction and death sentence in the killing of a white woman was based on thin and inconsistent evidence.

The decision granting Montez Spradley, who has always maintained his innocence in the 2004 murder of a 58-year-old white grandmother in Birmingham, Ala., was officially certified today after attorneys for the state declined to appeal.

“The court took very seriously the weak evidence used to convict Spradley and made the only right decision,” said Denny LeBoeuf, director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project. “It is never okay to move forward with the irrevocable punishment of death in cases like this one where serious doubts exist.”

On Sept. 30, Alabama’s highest appeals court reversed on four separate grounds Spradley’s conviction and death sentence, recognizing that the multiple errors in his trial resulted in what the court called “a miscarriage of justice.” The court found the prosecution’s case was riddled with inconsistencies and that much of it was “improperly submitted.”

Although the jury convicted Spradley, 10 of the 12 jurors recommended he receive a life sentence – a decision that was overridden by the trial court judge, who sentenced Spradley to death.

The judicial override was part of the appeal in Spradley’s case, but because the appellate court ordered a new trial, that issue was not addressed.

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