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Maryland To Pay $3.1M To 63-Year-Old Who Spent Decades In Prison For Wrongful Conviction

A 63-year old man will receive nearly $3.1 million from the state after he spent more than three decades in prison for a murder he did not commit. The state's Board of Public Works unanimously approved the payment for Gary Washington during a meeting Wednesday. Gov. Wes Moore (D) apologized to Washington and his wife before the vote, Maryland Matters reports. “And so Gary, as governor of this state, and more importantly as a father, as a husband and as a son and as a fellow Marylander there are no words that can convey how sorry I am to you today,” said Moore. “How sorry we are to the both of you for what you had to endure. And then on behalf of the entire state I’m sorry for the failure of the justice system.” The payment includes nearly $3 million in compensation for the 31 years Washington spent in prison based on a state rate of $94,991 annually. He will also receive nearly $90,000 in housing benefit payments.

Washington is the 14th person to receive compensation under a new law law passed in 2021. Washington, then 25, was accused of fatally shooting Fareem Ali, 17, during a drug dispute in East Baltimore No physical evidence was found at the scene other than the bullet that killed Ali. A gun was never recovered. Washington identified the shooter by name to his lawyer at the time, and a pair of witnesses called by the defense said the shooter was the same man identified by Washington. But he was convicted after a 12-year-old boy testified he was the shooter, and in 1987 he sentenced to life in prison, plus an additional 20 years to run concurrently. Then, in 2018, a judge vacated Washington’s conviction. The witness recanted his testimony, saying police manipulated him into identifying Washington as the shooter. “During his incarceration, Mr. Washington never gave up hope, despite appeals and judicial petitions, getting denied time after time,” Moore said.


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