Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Video Evidence frees Philadelphia man

From the Phily Daily News: "Riddled with bullets, Timothy "Banger" Ross lay faceup in the doorway of his North Philly home as his family watched the color drain from his face and a pool of blood ooze onto the floor beneath him.

Moments earlier on Oct. 7, 2009, a hail of gunfire had flown through the doorway. One shot came so close to striking Ross' 14-year-old sister in the head that it ripped off one of her braids.

Ross' frantic family knew exactly who did it: Amin Speakes, then 21, who had fought with Ross two hours before the shooting. The cops soon scooped up their man.

What the family and police didn't know at the time, though, is that Speakes had what some would call a rock-solid alibi - two time-stamped videos that placed him miles away from the shooting.

The District Attorney's Office viewed the video and decided to put Speakes on trial anyway.

Denied bail, Speakes turned 22, then 23, while awaiting trial behind bars, often playing chess alone.

Finally, after two years and three months, a jury last month found Speakes not guilty of first-degree murder. Instead of spending the rest of his life in prison, he was finally a free man.

"Here I am facing charges, and I didn't have no clue about what happened," Speakes, 23, said during a recent interview in his attorney's office. "That 'not guilty' verdict made me what I am. If I didn't hear that verdict, I wouldn't be here."

Speakes' case is disturbing not just because he sat in jail for so long for a crime he was cleared of, but also because it begs the question: If the jury got it right, how did the police and District Attorney's Office get it wrong?

"There was just a lot of burying their heads in the sand and not wanting to open their eyes to what really happened here," defense attorney David Nenner said. "This has been a rare experience in my career, where there is video evidence that exonerates somebody. It's not something I typically see."

Click here to continue reading the story.


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