Man Freed Who Sat in Prison Nearly 30 Years While Prosecutors Withheld Evidence of Innocence
by Dale Chappell
A man who sat in prison for almost 30 years because prosecutors and police withheld evidence that someone else committed the crime was set free July 16, 2019, after a Philadelphia judge said he was “likely innocent.”
In 1993, Chester Hollman III was convicted and sent to prison for life without parole for the murder of an exchange student in 1991. Hollman was arrested when the vehicle he was driving matched the getaway car involved in the crime.
However, police and prosecutors always had evidence that someone else might have committed the crime. They even had the name of the driver of the getaway car. But they never told Hollman’s lawyers.
The evidence was finally disclosed when Assistant District Attorney Patricia Cummings, head of the DA’s conviction integrity unit, turned over the evidence to Hollman. It was “pretty clear,” she said, that Hollman’s case probably wouldn’t have gone to trial, had he known about the evidence held by the state.
“I don’t think it’s really hit me yet,” Hollman said about his release. “Knowing that you’re in prison for something that you didn’t do and trying to convince people that you’re not lying ... it’s an uphill battle.”
Alan Tauber, Hollman’s lawyer, said Hollman had the best years of his life stolen from him. “We are only sorry that his mother did not live to see Chester declared an innocent man,” he said.
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