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Three Wrongly Convicted Louisiana Men Released After 28 Years

Three Louisiana men incarcerated for over 28 years were found to have been wrongfully convicted of murder after newly uncovered evidence linked the original police investigation to a notorious officer found guilty of murder conspiracy and endemic corruption in the New Orleans police department, the Guardian reports. Bernell Juluke, Kunta Gable and Leroy Nelson were found guilty of the second-degree murder of Rondell Santinac in 1996, with all three men – who were teenagers at the time of the drive-by shooting maintaining their innocence since arrest. At an emotionally charged post-conviction hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors for the Orleans Parish district attorney’s civil rights division presented evidence in court that linked the 1994 murder to disgraced former police officers Len Davis and Sammie Williams. The pair were the first officers present at the scene of the shooting.


Prosecutors unveiled additional evidence of innocence, involving the testimony and credibility of the lone eyewitness to the shooting, which had been withheld from the defense at trial. Davis, now on federal death row after being convicted on multiple civil rights charges, became a key target in an FBI undercover operation in the mid-90s as it emerged the patrolman was a lead enforcer in a protection racket for city drug dealers operated by corrupt police officers. Davis was recorded on a wiretap commissioning a hit on a woman named Kim Groves, who had filed a brutality complaint against his partner Williams. Groves was murdered less than two months after the Santinac killing. Prosecutors told the court that Davis and Williams were the first to arrive on the scene of Santinac’s murder, just two minutes after the shooting and before any officers dispatched by 911 operators had arrived. This behavior, they argued, followed a pattern of covering up for the drug dealers they were providing protection for.

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