BALTIMORE (WJZ) — City leaders came together Thursday to discuss what can be done to prevent future incidents of people being wrongfully convicted of crimes they didn’t commit.
The press conference held was centered around Malcom Bryant, who was released from jail back in 2016, after spending 17 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit.
“They had to pinch me to let me know I wasn’t dreaming and that it was real,” said Bryant in a 2016 phone interview.
It was 1999 when Bryant was convicted for the killing of 16-year-old Toni Bullock. He fought in court for nearly two decades before DNA evidence cleared him of the murder conviction.
“For us as prosecutors, convicting an innocent person goes against the very principles of our existence,” said Lauren Limpscomb, chief of the Conviction Integrity Unit.
For the past two years, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, police department, along with University of Penn Law School Center, and the University of Baltimore Innocence project, spent countless hours analyzing the breakdown in Bryant’s case.
“In Malcom Bryant’s case, he had the added difficulty in prison of being labeled a child killer,” said Michele Nethercott of the University of Baltimore Innocence Project.
Officials said there was a breakdown in discovery between the Baltimore Police Department, State’s Attorney, and Office of Public Defender.
The report identified confirmation bias as well, and delays in post-trial forensic testing.
“Apologies are not enough,” said State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby. “Beyond the apology, we must commit ourselves to doing the work.”
Just this week, Clarence Shipley Jr. was exonerated after 27 years in prison fora murder he didn’t commit.
One of many similar stories seen in Baltimore. Innocent people losing out on years that can never be replaced.
“The recommendations of this team is a major step forward in refining our criminal justice system, so that we never have to share the stories, like Malcom, like Lamar, like Jerome, and Clarence again,” said Mosby.
Officials say many policies have changed after the report was released.
Unfortunately, Bryant passed away one year after he was exonerated.
As for the investigation into the murder of Toni Bullock, that case remains open with very limited evidence.