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.
More from this issue:
- News in Brief
- $750,000 Settlement for St. Louis County Cops Shooting Dog, by Jayson Hawkins
- The Two-Edged Sword of DNA Exonerates Another Prisoner, by Edward Lyon
- National Fingerprint Database Frees Man After 36 Years, by Jayson Hawkins
- Free Speech Is Sometimes Expensive, by Edward Lyon
- New York City Cops Can Always Tell by Just the Smell, by Edward Lyon
- Man Freed Who Sat in Prison Nearly 30 Years While Prosecutors Withheld Evidence of Innocence, by Dale Chappell
- Payouts for Police Misconduct Claims Rise While Number of Claims Appear to Fall, by Douglas Ankney
- Michigan Supreme Court Reverses Criminal Sexual Conduct Convictions in Two Consolidated Cases Due to Improperly Admitted Expert Testimony, by Douglas Ankney
- High Bail Amounts Lead to Sharp Increase in Franklin, PA, Jail Population, by Dale Chappell
- New Law Makes It Harder for California’s Cops to Get Away with Killing People, by Douglas Ankney
- Not Guilty but Punished Anyway, by Douglas Ankney
- Maryland Court of Appeals Announces Circuit Court Retains Authority to Exercise Its Revisory Power for Up to Five Years After Granting Belated Postconviction Motion, by Douglas Ankney
- Indiana Supreme Court: Postconviction Petition Addressing Only Issues From New Trial, New Sentencing, or New Appeal From Federal Court via Habeas Proceedings Is Not a Second Petition Under State Law, by Douglas Ankney
- Ninth Circuit: Federal Sentencing Court Must Hear Defendant Before Determining If Acceptance of Responsibility Reduction Applies, by David Reutter
- Sixth Circuit Grants § 2254 Habeas Relief in Unusual Case of Attorney Failing to Initiate Plea Negotiations, by Douglas Ankney
- Law Professor Peeks at Prosecutor’s Veiled DNA Database, by Douglas Ankney
- Fifth Circuit: Practices of Orleans Parish Judges in Collecting Fines and Fees Violates Due Process, by Douglas Ankney
- Seventh Circuit Vacates Conviction and Remands for a Franks Hearing, by Douglas Ankney
- California Supreme Court Holds Discovery Statute Requiring ‘Good Cause’ Not Applicable When Evidence Held by Court, by Dale Chappell
- Minnesota Supreme Court Announces Heightened Pleading Standard for Birchfield/Johnson Claims Raised in Collateral Postconviction Proceedings, by Douglas Ankney
- Missouri Supreme Court Clarifies Defendant Is Entitled to Self-Defense Instruction When Substantial Evidence Supports Instruction Regardless of Whether Defendant Presented Evidence Contrary to Self-Defense, by Douglas Ankney
- Ninth Circuit Reverses Convictions Where Trial Court Failed to Provide Oral Jury Instructions, by Chad Marks
- Tenth Circuit: ‘Relevant Background Law’ Trumps Unclear Record in Granting § 2255 Relief From Johnson Error, by Michael Berk
- Another notable (but ultimately disappointing) ruling about sentence reductions under § 3582(c)(1)(A) after FIRST STEP Act, by Professor Douglas A. Berman
- Maryland Court of Appeals Abrogates Rule Requiring Corroboration of Accomplices’ Testimony and Announces New Rule, by Douglas Ankney
- In Landmark Opinion, Colorado Supreme Court Announces Courts May Not Sentence Defendant to Both Prison and Probation in Multi-Count Cases, by Richard Resch
- 9th Circuit: Sentence Under 18 U.S.C. § 3583(k) Violated Ex Post Facto Clause When Underlying Offense Was Committed in 2005, by Douglas Ankney
- California Supreme Court: Where Electronics Search Condition of Probation Is Not Reasonably Related to Future Criminality, Condition Is Invalid, by Douglas Ankney
- Risk Assessments in Cook County Ineffective, by Jayson Hawkins
- $2.4 Million Paid by Sacramento in Wrongful Death Suit of Stephon Clark, by Kevin Bliss
- Second Circuit: Federal Habeas Relief Warranted Where State Trial Court’s Evidentiary Rulings Deprived Defendant of Right to Present a Complete Defense, by Douglas Ankney
- South Carolina Supreme Court Grants New Trial Based on IAC Because of Botched Alibi Defense, by Dale Chappell
- Massachusetts Supreme Court Suppresses Evidence Obtained After Miranda Warnings Translated into Spanish Deemed Incapable of Conveying Meaningful Advice, by David Reutter
- Civil Death Laws: When Life is Death, by Jayson Hawkins
- 10th Circuit: Child Porn Stored on Multiple Devices Constitutes One Count of Possession Under 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(B), by Douglas Ankney
- Tell Me What I Want to Hear, Not What I Need to Hear: How Confirmation Bias Causes Wrongful Convictions, by Dale Chappell
- Flaws in Mobile Phone Records Free Danish Prisoners, by Jayson Hawkins
- Second Circuit Clarifies Conditions for Releasing a Defendant on Bail to Home Detention With Private Armed Security Guards, by Douglas Ankney
- Eighth Circuit Vacates Sentence for Improper Supervision Length After ACCA Enhancement Removed, by Anthony Accurso
- Oregon Supreme Court Explains PCR ‘Escape Clause’ Availability for Untimely Filed Petitions, by Mark Wilson
- Roadmap for Filing a Second or Successive § 2255 Motion Under Davis, by Dale Chappell
- Law Crazy, Government’s Insatiable Desire to Criminalize All Facets of Life, by Edward Lyon
- Why Juries Need Expert Help Assessing Jailhouse Informants, by Alexandra Natapoff
- Massachusetts Supreme Court Suppresses Evidence Obtained Following Illegally Prolonged Traffic Stop, Orders New Trial, by Douglas Ankney
- How the Secretive 'Discipline' Process for Federal Prosecutors Buries Misconduct Cases, by Brooke Williams, Samata Joshi, Shawn Musgrave
More from Dale Chappell:
- Suicide Rate of BOP Guards Keeps Increasing, Sets New Record, April 2, 2020
- Prison Plays Go on the Road, Teach Prisoners Life Skills, April 2, 2020
- U.S. District Judge Blows Open ATF Fake Stash-House Stings, Wants to Know Why They Only Target Minorities, March 18, 2020
- Nevada Supreme Court: Duress Defense May be Used for Non-Death Penalty Charges, Even When Connected to Charges Punishable by Death, March 18, 2020
- Pennsylvania Supreme Court Holds Retention of Defendant’s ID Card Constitutes ‘Seizure’ for Fourth Amendment Purposes, March 18, 2020
- Third Circuit Holds ‘Bare’ Arrest Record Insufficient to Support Higher Sentence, March 18, 2020
- Seventh Circuit Holds Brain Injury May Allow Equitable Tolling to File Late Habeas Petition, March 18, 2020
- Sixth Circuit Adopts ‘Naked Eye Test’ for Altered Firearm Serial Number Enhancement, March 18, 2020
- Federal Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Prisoner's Non-Prison Lawsuit Under PLRA's 3-Strikes Rule, Even Though Unrelated to Prison Conditions, March 15, 2020
- Court Grants Bail to Ex-Peruvian President Challenging Extradition Due to Solitary Confinement, March 4, 2020
More from these topics:
- Fund to Pay Wrongfully Convicted Prisoners in Michigan Is Broke Once Again, April 2, 2020. Wrongful Conviction, State Legislation.
- Rhode Island Supreme Court Reverses Conviction Due to Prosecutor’s Remarks and Jury Consideration of Inadmissible Evidence, March 18, 2020. Trials, Wrongful Conviction.
- Life Sentence for Murder Overturned by New DNA Technology, March 18, 2020. DNA Testing/Samples, Wrongful Conviction.
- Spirited (But Problematic?) Advocacy for Bernie Madoff to Receive Compassionate Relief, March 17, 2020. Prisoner Privileges, Release and Reentry.
- Oklahoma Commutations Largest Mass Release in U.S. History, March 4, 2020. Release and Reentry, Post-release, ex-offender, re-entry.
- Kim Kardashian Keeps Going, Helps Release D.C. Prisoner, Feb. 19, 2020. Release and Reentry.
- DNA Contamination Threatened Conviction of Innocent Man, Feb. 19, 2020. DNA Testing/Samples, Wrongful Conviction.
- Critics Claim Thin Blue Line Protects Cops and Prosecutors in Orange County, California, Feb. 19, 2020. Police Misconduct, Prosecutor/Attorney General Misconduct, Prosecutors, Police.
- Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Kansas Considers It Acceptable to Listen to Attorney-Client Conversations, Feb. 19, 2020. Prosecutor/Attorney General Misconduct, Prosecutors.
- Ninth Circuit Vacates Unconstitutionally Vague Supervised-Release Conditions, Feb. 18, 2020. Release and Reentry, Post-release, ex-offender, re-entry.