Rodney K. Stanberry- Innocent and Incarcerate, Year 19.
“”I’ve been in prison for 20 years for a crime I didn’t commit,” said Rosario, who had lost multiple appeals. “My family didn’t deserve this. I didn’t deserve this, and nor did the family of the victim.”” http://bigstory.ap.org/article/cbeb663a3bab40e884e83ad2cd5d6a2e/nyc-killing-florida-alibi-man-may-go-free-after-20-years
Imagine spending 20 years in prison for a crime you did not commit. Imagine spending 20 years in prison for a crime you did not commit, when you have witnesses placing you a thousand miles away from where the crime was committed. This is apparently what happened to 40 year old Richard Rosario. He was 20 when he was convicted in 1996 and he is 40 now. Imagine spending 20 years of your life in prison, away from your children who were born just before your incarceration. Rosario was released this week. “”A modicum of justice has occurred today,” said one of his lawyers, Glenn Garber of the Exoneration Initiatve. But “he’s not been fully vindicated, and we hope he will be soon.””
This is a reality for far too many individuals in the United States of America. I have provided statistics in other blogs on this, but for this blog, I want you to take note of what Mr. Rosario said, “ I didn’t deserve this, and nor did the family of the victim.” When prosecutors prosecute an innocent person, they leave the victim and victim’s family to believe that justice has been served. For each of the actual innocent people who have been released from prison, there is a victim/victim’s family left without closure and left to deal with open wounds. Prosecutors can do the right thing at any point during a defendant’s case, but, too often, they go for the easy conviction. No one wins when innocent men and women are incarcerated, except for prosecutors who continue to advance their careers based on their conviction rates.
Rodney K. Stanberry- Year 19
On March 24th, 2016, Rodney K. Stanberry will conclude 19 full years in prison for crimes he did not commit. He will begin his last year of incarceration on March 25th, 2016. Rodney had proof that he was at work when the crimes for which he is accused of committing took place. He has work documents as well as co-workers placing him at work. The prosecutor interviewed Rodney at his place of employment (without reading him his Miranda Rights, Rodney was cooperative because he wanted to be helpful, he had no idea that he was a suspect. While at his place of employment, the prosecutor- Joe Carl Buzz Jordan, likely saw that Rodney was at work, but what does the truth matter when one is operating under a theory. I outline the day the crimes took place in this blog entitled “Can One Person Be Two Places at Once” . In addition, an individual who was actually present when the crime took place confessed that it was on him and the actual shooter at the victim’s house. Again, Buzz Jordan interviewed Moore, the person who confessed, approximately two years before Rodney’s trial and the interview took place in the law office of one of the most prominent attorneys in Mobile. He told his client to tell PROSECUTOR Jordan the truth, which he did, exonerating Rodney, but Jordan didn’t believe him, even asking if he has been offered lunch meat in return for the confession. Understand that Moore and Rodney were not friends and that Moore was facing many years in prison if prosecuted. He had no incentive to lie and every incentive to be truthful. He and his attorney believed that a prosecutor with the Mobile District Attorney’s Office was actually searching for the truth. As a result, Rodney ended up serving 19 years and counting for crimes Jordan had to know he could not have committed.) Rather than the Mobile District Attorney’s Office to pursue the truth, they relied on a theory that was unproven, “lost” evidence, and an overzealous prosecutor. It is truly shameful with the criminal is more honest than the prosecutor, absolutely shameful. The Mobile District Attorney’s Office, from John Tyson, Jr. to current District Attorney Ashley Rich, had more than 20 years to actually pursue justice in Rodney’s case, instead, at every point of his appeals and parole hearings, they have ensured that he would not achieve his freedom. They sanction dishonesty, as it is about the conviction with them, nothing but the conviction. How can someone claim to be pro-victim under these circumstances? The prosecutor in Rodney’s case, seen in the video above, has continued to convince the victim’s family that Rodney is guilty and the prosecutor has ensured that he provides assistance needed to be sure that he is never questioned (http://freerodneystanberry.com/blog/2013/09/09/the-continued-struggle-to-free-an-innocent-man-the-case-of-rodney-k-stanberry/ and http://freerodneystanberry.com/blog/2014/02/11/ruthless-we-should-never-have-to-describe-people-paid-and-elected-to-pursue-justice-as-such-but/)
This is not justice, this is injustice perpetuated by a flawed system and individuals who are blinded by the need to uphold a conviction over anything else. This is also not pro-victim.
Rodney K. Stanberry is a strong individual. He has endured these two decades of injustice with dignity because he knows he is innocent and he knows he has support. Rodney was a hard-working, fun-loving, law-abiding human being who went to prison in 1997 to serve a 20 year sentence for crimes he did not commit. He is now a soon to be 47 year old man (he turns 47 in April) who is ready, willing, and able to work hard and to continue to live as a law abiding citizen, while we continue to fight for his exoneration. Rodney did not deserve the nightmare that he has lived since first being accused of a crime that he did not commit in 1992 (the trial was in 1995 and he entered prison in March 1997), nor did his family and friends deserve the heartache and heartbreak of knowing that a loved one has been a victim of the convict at all costs mentality that too many prosecutors live by. His son born shortly before his sentence began is a grown man, his mother died, and his father is now in his 80s. This conviction has taken a toll on him, but the bigger toll is on our system of justice. We need a system that the average person truly believes is fair and just. When we consistently see news headlines featuring individuals who have served 10, 20, and even 30 years in prison for crimes they did not commit, we gradually lose the belief that the system is fair and just for all. Rodney was once asked why he still believed in the system. After confirming his belief in the system, Rodney said that it is a character flaw on his part. The character flaw isn’t with Rodney; rather, it is with the prosecutors/district attorneys who refuse to seek the truth. The cure to this is for prosecutors to be held accountable by State Bar Associations, and for voters to say enough is enough and to vote prosecutors out of office who refuse to acknowledge that reforms are needed. Mobile District Attorney Ashley Rich acknowledged when she first sought the office that wrongful convictions should be addressed, but as cases have been overturned by prosecutors in her office, she has remained silent on this issue. And she is walking into another term, unopposed. One of my biggest regrets is that 19 years ago, when I first became an advocate for Rodney’s freedom and exoneration, is that I did not move back to Alabama to fight for him there. If that had happened, perhaps I would have been able to convince a strong candidate to run against DA Ashley Rich on the issue of wrongful convictions. Citizens around the country who are fed up with prosecutors who refuse to acknowledge AND seriously address wrongful convictions can vote in local elections, it happened in Chicago with regard to a prosecutor who did not adequately investigate a police shooting (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-chicago-idUSKCN0WI0I0) and it happened with a prosecutor associated In Williamson County, Texas, Jana Duty, a Republican, defeated Bradley and her Democratic general election challenger, the issue of Michael Morton’s case was front and center.
By this time next year, Rodney will be out of prison. He will be a productive citizen. He will not hold grudges. I will never give up the battle to exonerate Rodney K. Stanberry. It is about the truth, it is about justice, and Rodney deserves it, justice deserves it.
Please read this investigative piece by investigative journalist Beth Schwartzapfel: Who Shot Valerie Finley? Why One Man’s Innocence Is So Hard to Prove