Philadelphia's Larry Walker Finally Free 38 Years After Wrongful Conviction
On Friday, May 21, 2021, Larry Walker was released from prison after nearly 38 years of wrongful incarceration. Centurion (501c3), the first innocence organization in the world, worked on Mr. Walker's case for more than nine years, reinvestigating the crime and representing him in his legal proceedings. Footage of Mr. Walker's first moments of freedom can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuQiR4insWQ&t=3s.
In October 1983, Larry Walker was convicted of a murder he did not commit and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. On Friday, he walked free for the first time in almost 38 years after his conviction was vacated by Common Pleas Court Judge Tracey Brandeis-Roman when the Conviction Integrity Unit of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office moved that Mr. Walker's petition for post-conviction relief be granted.
Mr. Walker was the victim of a misidentification, an incompetent trial attorney and a tunnel vision police investigation which failed to investigate an eyewitness' account fingering the actual murderer and one of his two accomplices and then covered up their failures by falsely testifying the eyewitness was "unfindable," "uncooperatve" and unreliable. In fact, the eyewitness was readily findable because she was cooperating with the same police unit in their investigation of the shooting of her fiancé and killing of his friend, cooperation which led to her being killed a few months after Mr. Walker's trial.
Fortunately, after all these years the Conviction Integrity Unit recognized the injustice suffered by Mr. Walker and his family and agreed to his immediate release but only on the condition that he plea nolo contendere to a reduced charge of third-degree murder. Left with the choice of immediately walking free and being united with his supportive daughter, son, grandchildren and other family members or staying in prison for years to come litigating his post-conviction petition that the Commonwealth presented false testimony and suppressed exculpatory evidence, the now 60-year-old Mr. Walker felt freedom was his only choice knowing he walks out of prison as he walked in, an innocent man.
Mr. Walker's case is a classic example of harms caused when the police fail to conduct a proper and fair investigation, not only is an innocent man convicted but also the actual murderers get away when they so easily could have been caught and brought to justice.
Centurion championed Mr. Walker's case for the past nine years. He is represented by Centurion Legal Director Paul Casteleiro, along with David Rudovsky and Susan Lin of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing Feinberg and Lin, LLP, and assisted by Centurion Investigator Alan Maimon.
Mr. Walker returns to court to enter his nolo contendere plea on Thursday, June 3.
Founded in 1983, Centurion was the first organization in the world established to investigate claims of factual innocence and help victims of wrongful convictions secure their freedom. Centurion takes on the most challenging cases, specifically those with no DNA evidence to prove our clients' innocence. Centurion is almost always the last hope - the only hope - for the innocent in prison. Centurion receives approximately 1,100 requests for help each year and is currently developing over 100 cases. All investigative, legal, and post-release services are provided free of charge. To date, Centurion has freed 66 wrongly convicted men and women. It is almost always the last hope for the innocent in prison. For more information, please visit www.Centurion.org.
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