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Podcast Tipster Leaves FL Bench to Represent Inmate

During his defense lawyer days, Scott Cupp failed to convince Florida prosecutors that his client, Leo Schofield, was innocent of the murder of his wife, for which Schofield had already served 13 years when Cupp took his case in 2002. Years after Cupp took the bench in 2014 on the circuit court in Charlotte County, Fl., he tipped off Pulitzer-winning journalist and author Gilbert King about Schofield's case, which resulted in the nine-episode podcast series "Bone Valley" last year. Although King makes a powerful case for Schofield's innocence, complete with a confession and fingerprint evidence implicating another man, a convicted murderer, Schofield remains in prison and prosecutors have not budged in their insistence of his guilt. That is why, the New York Times reports, Cupp is leaving the bench to serve as Schofield's full-time, unpaid lawyer. “In a way, what I’m about to do is selfish,” he said, “because it’s for my own psyche. I need to do this. I have to do this.”

“Bone Valley” has been a triumph for Lava for Good, a production company that focuses on social justice issues. It has been downloaded 4.5 million times, reaching No. 7 on Apple’s podcast chart and turning up on best-of-the-year lists. King, who lives in Brooklyn, is the author of the book "Devil in the Grove," a nonfiction account of four Black men falsely accused of raping a white woman in central Florida in 1949, a case handled by future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. In the Schofield case, authorities tarred Schofield as a violent hothead who had abused his wife Michelle. Notably missing from the state's case was any physical evidence linking Schofield to the crime. But fingerprints had been found in his wife’s car. Figuring out whom they belonged to became a fixation for Crissie Carter, a social worker who had met Schofield in prison when he assisted her in life skill classes she taught to inmates. In 1995, the two married. Cupp first learned of the case through his then-wife, a police officer who was a friend of Carter's. Since then, prosecutors have won multiple rounds in court challenges to the conviction and in Schofield's bid for parole. He has another parole hearing scheduled for March or April.


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