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  • The clock has ticked down, the last-minute appeals  have been exhausted, and the condemned's time has  

  • come. The convict is led into the death chamberthe witnesses are brought in, and the executioner  

  • checks the machine. It's time. The inmate is  allowed their last words, and the executioner  

  • presses the lever. The condemned is pronounced  dead, and everyone at the prison breathes a sigh  

  • of relief that justice was done. Someone paid  the price for the terrible crime they committed.

  • Or did they? Does the death penalty always get  it right? As the only penalty from which there's  

  • no reprieve once carried out, many people  believe the risk is too high. After all,  

  • someone who is wrongfully sent to prison can be  released and given payments to try to make up for  

  • the years they lost. When someone is wrongfully  executed, there's no way to make up for that.  

  • That's why the United States and many  other countries with a death penalty  

  • have lengthy appeals processes to  allow time for evidence to come out.  

  • Many times, it's saved lives - over a hundred  and fifty death row inmates have been exonerated.

  • But has an innocent person been executed? While  many cases are still being debated, there are many  

  • cases around the world where the executioner was  forced to admit that they got the wrong criminal.

  • One of the first famous cases of wrongful  executions happened in 1660 in Gloucester,  

  • England. A successful man named William Harrison  left his home to walk to a nearby village  

  • and didn't return home. One of his servants, John  Parry, was sent after him - but when Harrison's  

  • son went out looking for him, he found only ParryThey soon found some of Harrison's clothing,  

  • slashed and covered in blood. No body was  ever found, and as the investigation began,  

  • John confessed that he and his mother and  brother had killed Harrison for his money.  

  • They denied everything, but John's  testimony was all that was needed.  

  • The three servants were put on  trial, pled guilty to lesser charges,  

  • and were then found guilty of murder. The  family was hung together on Broadway Hill.

  • There was just one problem  with the open-and-shut case.

  • It was 1662 when William Harrison stepped  off a ship arriving from Portugal. He had  

  • a wild story of having been abducted and  sold into slavery in the Ottoman Empire.  

  • His master eventually died and he ran awaystowing away on a ship back to London.  

  • This miraculous return came to  be known as the Campden Wonder,  

  • a miracle - for everyone except the unfortunate  Parry family. But was Harrison's story true?  

  • Why did John Parry confess? Although historians  have cast doubt on Harrison's spectacular tale of  

  • his whereabouts, this bizarre wrongful execution  remains one of England's biggest mysteries.

  • But it would not be England's  final wrongful execution.

  • The year was 1949, and the Cameo Theater in  Liverpool was one of the city's top entertainment  

  • centers. That is, until it became the sight  of a brutal crime. Cinema manager Leonard  

  • Thomas and his deputy Bernard Caterall were  counting the day's earning when a masked man  

  • stepped into their office. He robbed them, then  fired and killed both men. As the staff arrived,  

  • the killer made his escape down the fire escapeTwo local men with a history of petty crime,  

  • Charles Connolly and George Kelly, were quickly  arrested. They claimed to have never met each  

  • other and produced alibis, but they were  charged nonetheless. Kelly, charged with  

  • being the shooter, was eventually convicted  after multiple trials and sentenced to death,  

  • while Connolly pled guilty to lesser  charges. He was executed in March 1950.

  • That was only the beginning of  the strange turns in this case.

  • Many of the witnesses who named Kelly as  the killer had their own criminal history,  

  • and presiding Judge Cassels showed consistent  bias throughout the trial for the prosecutions.  

  • More troubling, the police questioned  another local criminal, Donald Johnson,  

  • and didn't turn over the evidence to the  proper authorities at trial. Johnson not  

  • only knew more about the case than any of the  men arrested but admitted to being around the  

  • cinema at the time. He later confessed to lying  to the police about the case but died in 1988  

  • and his role in the shooting was never prosecutedIt wasn't until 2003 when Kelly's conviction was  

  • overturned by the Court of Appeals, and he  was given a proper burial as an innocent man.

  • The next case was bungled so badly, it led to the  end of capital punishment in the United Kingdom.

  • Timothy Evans lived a quiet life in rural  Wales with his wife and young daughter.  

  • He had overcome illness as a child and worked  as a painter despite chronic pain in his foot  

  • and learning difficulties. He moved into an  apartment building with his family in 1948,  

  • but his marriage was full of fightingMany neighbors reported screaming from  

  • his apartment. So when his wife wound up dead  under mysterious circumstances, he was suspect  

  • #1. When he mentioned his wife had takendrug to have an abortion, which was illegal,  

  • that only made people more suite he was guiltyThen came the horrifying discovery of the body  

  • of his baby daughter next to her. Evans was  quickly put on trial, and with the testimony of  

  • his neighbor John Christie, he was convictedHe was executed in March, 1950 by hanging.

  • But three years later, the  case took a horrific turn.

  • When John Christie left his apartment  and a new neighbor moved in,  

  • multiple bodies were found hidden in a secret  room of the house. It was revealed that  

  • Christie was actually one of the worst serial  killers in Welsh history, and the Evans family  

  • were two more of his victims. Christie was  soon executed for the murder of his own wife,  

  • and with it, the Evans case attracted new  attention. Although Christie had previous  

  • convictions for assault, he was never seriously  looked at as a suspect in the initial killings.  

  • Evans was eventually pardoned in 1966, and  the outrage over the execution of this simple,  

  • troubled man led to capital punishment  in Great Britain being abolished in 1965.

  • One thing many victims of wrongful execution  have in common? They were victims of racism.

  • Mahmood Hussein Mattan was born in British  Somaliland in 1923, and worked as a merchant  

  • seaman until he settled in Wales. A man of Somali  descent in Wales in the early 20th century wasn't  

  • going to blend in, and the negative attention  Mahmood attracted only increased when he married  

  • a local Welsh woman, Laura Williams. They  endured harassment as an interracial couple  

  • and eventually split up. But Mr. Mattan's bad luck  was only beginning. When a local business owner,  

  • Lily Volpert, was robbed and murdered  in her store in 1962, a massive manhunt  

  • questioned all the men in the area. While they  didn't find any evidence in Mattan's home,  

  • a woman who had been at Volpert's store  later identified him as being in the  

  • store right before the murder. Although she  later contradicted her story, the prosecutors  

  • later produced a twelve-year-old girl who  claimed she had seen Mattan enter the shop.

  • The evidence was thin. That didn't matter.

  • Mattan was quickly convicted despite there being  no physical evidence linking him to the crime.  

  • His own attorney's closing speech was racistclaiming Mattan was a “semi-civilized savage”.  

  • Mattan's appeals failed, and he was executed  less than two months after his conviction.  

  • After his death, both another man seen near the  shop and one of the witnesses were convicted of  

  • violent crimes that resembled Volpert's murderWhile Mattan's family attempted to appeal the  

  • conviction posthumously, the government decided  not to reopen the case. They did allow the  

  • family to move the body to a Cardiff cemetery in  1996. His headstone readsKilled by Injustice”,  

  • and a later commission appointed by the government  found his conviction was flawed. In 1998,  

  • his family became the first family of a wrongfully  executed person to receive a cash settlement.

  • Mateen was far from the only racial minority  executed unjustly, as we head across the Atlantic.

  • The year was 1862, and the Dakota War was ragingIn the middle of the United States Civil War,  

  • another smaller war boiled over as Dakota natives  fought with the United States government over  

  • broken tariffs. Hundreds of Dakota soldiers were  captured and tried by military tribunals for their  

  • role in attacks on settlers. Ultimately, three  hundred and three men were sentenced to death,  

  • among them We-Chank-Wash-ta-don-pee. Also known  as Chaska, he was known for abducting Sarah  

  • Wakefield and her children, who he protected  from attacks. Many rumors spread that he and  

  • Sarah were lovers, but he was convicted  for murdering a pregnant woman in a raid.

  • Hope was in the wings, as Abraham Lincoln  was reportedly sympathetic to his case.

  • Lincoln was known for his liberal use of  the commutation power, and he reversed all  

  • but thirty-eight of the sentences for lack of  evidence. Chaska was one of them...but he was  

  • executed by General Henry Sibley anyway. Sibley  claimed he had simply never received the pardon,  

  • making Chaska's execution a tragic mistake. Or  was it? Many speculated that Chaska's relationship  

  • with Sarah Wakefield made him a target, and  the General wanted to make an example. Today,  

  • pressure from Native American activists forposthumous pardon for Chaska continues to grow.

  • In the 1800s, executions in the American west  were common. And it didn't matter who you were.

  • Chipita Rodriguez wasn't your typical convicted  murderer. A Mexican-American woman who ran a  

  • makeshift lodge for travelers, she was 63 when  she had her brush with the law. A trader named  

  • John Savage was found dead from ax woundsand she was accused of killing and robbing  

  • him. There was just one problem - the money she  was accused of taking was found on his body.  

  • She was indicted along with a man named Juan  Silvera, who many suspected was secretly her son.  

  • She refused to testify in her own  defense, maybe to protect Juan,  

  • and was convicted. The jury clearly had  their doubts, as they recommended life  

  • in prison. But Judge Benjamin Neal washard-nosed man, and he ordered her hung.

  • But her execution would not  be the end of her story.

  • Rodriguez's last words as she was  executed wereNo soy culpable”,  

  • or “I am not guilty”. Her execution became  part of American lore, as many in the area  

  • claimed to see her ghost wandering the  desert with a noose around her neck.  

  • Books, newspapers, and operas have been written  about her, casting her as a victim of racism  

  • who may have been trying to protect her  son. Although no formal review of the case  

  • ever happened, the Texas Legislature passedresolution condemning her execution in 1985.

  • No, there is no safety from wrongful convictionsNot for the elderly - and not for the young.

  • Joe Arridy was only twenty-one when the full  force of the law came crashing down on him. His  

  • parents were immigrants from Syria who came  to America seeking work, and Joe was slow  

  • as a young boy. He had trouble speaking and  only attended one year of elementary school,  

  • and wound up leaving a residential home  for people with mental disabilities  

  • and becoming a train-hopper. No one knows if  he was in Pueblo, Colorado in August, 1936  

  • when horror came to the Drain family. Two  girls, Dorothy and Barbara, were viciously  

  • attacked in their bedroom by an unknown assailantDorothy was sexually assaulted and died from her  

  • injuries. When Arridy was arrested in neighboring  Wyoming for vagrancy, Sheriff George Carrol was  

  • determined to catch a bigger fish. He interrogated  Arridy about the Drain case, and Joe confessed.

  • But did he even know what he was saying?

  • When Carroll called the Pueblo police chief, he  learned that they had another suspect in custody,  

  • Frank Aguilar. Aguilar confessed to the crimehaving worked for the Drain family and been fired  

  • before the attack. He said he never met Arridybut that didn't stop the authorities from charging  

  • them both with the killings. The only piece of  evidence they had against Arridy was his false  

  • confession, and doctors said that Arridy only  had the mind of a six-year-old. Both men were  

  • sentenced to death, and Arridy's attorney Gail  Ireland fought for years to save Arridy's life.  

  • Those on Colorado's death row stated that Arridy  was the happiest prisoner, as he likely didn't  

  • even know what was about to happen to him. He  played with a toy train until he was taken to the  

  • gas chamber. While it was too late to save his  life, he received a posthumous pardon in 2011.

  • Most wrongfully convicted people are bystanders or  

  • unrelated to the crime. But the  next may have been the victim.

  • By all accounts, Cameron Todd Willingham wasnormal Texas dad. He and his wife Stacy raised  

  • their three daughters - a toddler and twin babies  in Corsicana. But one day, Stacy went out to shop  

  • for Christmas presents, and things went terribly  wrong. A massive blaze ripped through the home,  

  • and only Cameron made it out. The three children  tragically burned to death. When police looked  

  • into the fire, they found evidence of arsonclaiming that a liquid accelerant had been  

  • used to start the blaze. They quickly charged  Willingham with setting the fire to cover up  

  • evidence of child abuse, but his wife denied  that he had ever abused the girls or her.

  • That didn't matter to prosecutors.

  • The state quickly assembled a bizarre array  of witnesses. A jailhouse informant claimed  

  • that Willingham had confessed while locked up  awaiting trial. A psychiatrist nicknamedDr.  

  • Deathfor his testimony in death penalty cases  argued that Willingham's skull tattoo meant he  

  • was a sociopath. Two local women claimed that they  had urged Willingham to go back into the house to  

  • rescue his kids, but he refused. Willingham  was offered a plea deal for life in prison,  

  • but refused, and was convicted. He maintained  his innocence until his execution in 2004,  

  • but the investigation continued after his  death. Famous fire investigator Gerald Hurst  

  • examined the evidence and found no compelling  evidence of arson. Although Willingham's wife  

  • claimed years after his death that he confessed  to her, many people now believe there may have  

  • never been a crime at all, and Willingham  was executed for a tragic house fire.

  • While it was too late for these eight individuals,  

  • every wrongful conviction gains more attention to  the possibility of people being executed unjustly.  

  • The Innocence Project is one of many charities  using DNA evidence to exonerate people before  

  • their date with the executioner. Some have  been released after decades on death row.

  • For more on the most shocking executions ever,  

  • check out “50 Insane Execution and Death  Penalty Facts That Will Shock You”,  

  • and for how it's evolved, watchThe  Horrible History of the Death Penalty”.

The clock has ticked down, the last-minute appeals  have been exhausted, and the condemned's time has  

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Shocking True Stories of Innocent People Who Were Executed

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/01/14
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