Rodney K. Stanberry- Innocent and Incarcerated: Year 18 Begins

Investigative Reporter Beth Schwartzapfel talks to Dr. Wilmer Leon about Rodney’s case and her investigative report.

 Rodney K. Stanberry- Innocent and Incarcerated: Year 18 Begins

March 25th, 2014

Today (March 25th, 2014) begins Rodney K. Stanberry’s 18th year in prison for crimes he did not commit.  He has now completed 17 full years in prison.  Rodney was denied parole on August 28th, 2013.  The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles stated that Rodney would have to remain with the Alabama Department of Corrections until his sentence concludes in March 2017.  This means that after spending 17 years in prison, Rodney still has three more years on his prison sentence.  The only hope he has for release before his term concludes is if an attorney will devote the time and resources to file a federal habeas petition or if Mobile District Attorney Ashley Rich will do what is fair and just and work towards his release, including reopening his case for a serious review of what happened that resulted in an innocent man’s arrest, conviction and long-term incarceration.

The Mobile DA’s office had evidence of Rodney’s innocence, it didn’t fit the prosecutor’s theory, so Rodney remains in prison and an injustice continues. Please keep Rodney, his family, and the victim’s family in your thoughts/prayers, as the Mobile County District Attorney’s office has done both families wrong. No one wins when the wrong person is convicted. The person who confessed and exonerated Rodney did so approximately two years before Rodney’s trial. He (Moore) had as his attorney one of the best attorneys in Mobile, Alabama. I doubt if Moore’s attorney would invite prosecutor Buzz Jordan to his office and instruct his client to confess if his client weren’t telling the truth. Moore and his attorney no doubt believed Jordan had evidence of Moore’s guilt, but Jordan opted to pursue an innocent man instead, no one was ever tried nor convicted for the crimes against the victim, except for Rodney, who had evidence that he was at work and that he was innocent.

Rodney was arrested in 1992, convicted in 1995, and began serving his prison sentence in 1997.  He was approximately just shy of 23 when arrested, 26 when sentenced, and one month shy of his 28th birthday when he spent his first day under the Alabama Department of Corrections.  He voluntarily turned himself in when his post trial appeals were exhausted, believing that the system would correct this injustice. Imagine what his 28th birthday was like, innocent, incarcerated, and away from his parents, his new baby, his wife, his sister and his loved ones. He is currently 44, he will be 45 on April 27th, 2013.   Rodney’s father was 58 when Rodney was arrested, 61 when Rodney was convicted, 63 when his son spent his first day in prison, and he is 80 on his son’s 17th complete year in prison. Rodney has a son who is now a teenager, and his mother died on September 8, 2012, cared for and surrounded by his father and his sister. His parents’ retirement years were taken away over this ordeal. Rodney came from a solidly two-parent, middle class household.  His parents were married for as long as he has been alive. He did not have a criminal record, he had a steady job that he worked at until began serving his prison term, he had a bank account, an excellent reputation as a law abiding citizen, his entire future ahead of him, close friends and family and so on.  If the Mobile DA’s office had followed the evidence instead of a theory, this ordeal would have been over long ago.  Instead, on March 25th, 2014, he will begin his 18th year in prison for crimes he did not commit. While a book can and will be written to fill in what occurred during each of the years below, only some highlights are provided for your review.

Although calls to the Mobile District Attorney’s Office seem to be futile, your calls are needed to let District Attorney Ashley Rich know that you are concerned about the continued incarceration of Rodney K. Stanberry.She can be reached at (251) 574-6685, (251) 574-5000 or or her Chief Investigator Mike Morgan at (251) 574-8400 or

March 24th 1997- March 24th 1998- Year 1 Adjusting to Prison Life- A Foreign Concept to an innocent man who had never been in prison.

March 24th 1998-March 24th 1999- Year2(1st letter from NAACP stating that they could not assist in this case)

March 24th 1999- March 24th 2000- Year 3(1st letter from the Mobile District Attorney’s Office:

Rodney “celebrates” his 30th birthday in prison

March 24th-2000-March 24th 2001- Year 4

March 24th 2001-March 24th 2002– Year 5- Rule 32- Post Conviction Hearing for New trial Denied

March 24th 2002-March 24th 2003– Year 6

March 24th 2003-March 24th 2004- Year 7 “Guilty Until Proven Innocent” WKRG TV- 5 (Mobile, AL Report (

March 24th 2004-March 24th 2005- Year 8(October 18, 2004-Parole Hearing- Parole Denied)

March 24th 2005-March 24th 2006– Year 9

March 24th 2006- March 24th 2007– Year 10 Important Interview on Dr. Wilmer Leon’s show, featuring Rodney’s supervisor who testified and provided work documents during trial that Rodney was at work (he also spoke at Rodney’s second parole hearing):

March 24th 2007- March 24th 2008- Year 11

March 24th 2008- March 24th 2009– Year 12 Election & Inauguration of First African American President- a lot of change since Rodney’s arrest in 1992.

March 24th 2009-March 24th 2010– Year 13  (July 8, 2009- Parole Hearing- Parole Denied)

Rodney “celebrates” his 40th birthday in prison.

“Time Served, Or Justice Denied in Alabama,” An article in Lagniappe Mobile written by Bill Riales about Rodney’s case. (June 2009, )

March 24th 2010- March 24th 2011Year 14 Ashley Rich is elected to replace Mobile District Attorney John Tyson, Jr.

During the campaign she was asked about what she would do if a prosecutor withheld evidence- You can listen to her response here:

She seemed very adamant about the issue and said that the integrity of every conviction is important to her.

March 24th 2011-March 24th-2012Year 15

Shortly after her swearing in, Rodney K. Stanberry supporters from around the country called her office and signed a petition in support of his release.This put Rodney’s case on her radar screen as District Attorney, not simply as candidate for the office.As stated: [District Attorney Ashley Rich] has received so many calls that she asked her new investigator to call around to see why people were calling. In honor of her first year as DA, I am asking that people call to follow up to see what she is doing with regard to [Rodney’s] case. More importantly, I’m asking people to ask her to take steps to either get the Attorney General to investigate Rodney’s case, retry or release him immediately.

Journalist Kirsten West Savali was able to get District Attorney Ashley Rich’s Office on record to discuss Rodney’s case. You can read that interview here:

March 24th 2012- March 24th 2013Year 16

LagniappeMobile calls for an innocent project, the editorial includes the following: “Another case I believe needs an independent look is that of Rodney Stanberry, who has been in jail for murder for roughly 20 years now. A Lagniappe story in 2009 detailed the very shaky circumstances surrounding his conviction.” (Nov 2012:

March 2013: Investigative Journalist Beth Schwartzapfel completed and published her investigation in the Boston Review.You can read it here: “Who Shot Valerie Finley: Why Is One Man’s Innocence So Hard to Prove”

In this article, she includes the confession by Terrell Moore, a confession that the District Attorney’s Office worked to suppress BEFORE Rodney’s trial, even as he confessed in front of the prosecutor and was given immunity from prosecution if he did so, AGAIN, before Rodney’s trial. You can read the confession here:

But here is a portion of investigative journalist Beth Schwartzapfel’s article as it relates Moore appearing before Rodney Rule 32 Post Conviction Hearing:

“Aside from Mike Finley, Taco Jones, Tyrone Dortch, and five of Rodney’s coworkers who testified at Rodney’s trial, there was one additional person who would not have corroborated everything that Valerie said: Terrell Moore. Hoping that Terrell would finally “come clean,” as he had promised Ryan Russell he would, Knizely called him to the stand at the hearing. Terrell seemed prepared to testify.

But Knizely had no sooner asked Terrell his name than Martha Tierney, the assistant district attorney, jumped in. “Judge, I hate to interrupt Mr. Knizely, because I have the world of respect for him,” she began, “but if Mr. Moore is going to testify about the things we anticipate he will testify about, and I’m concerned this is a state forum, and that he would take this stand unrepresented and with no grant of immunity to make statements that could have life consequences for him. I just wish that the Court be apprised of that and our concern about that, sir.”

 Knizely was incredulous. “Judge, from our understanding, the State’s [position is that] the man—he has no credibility. And are they are telling us now they are going to prosecute him if he confesses to it?”

 It was a good question. If the district attorney’s office truly believed, as it had maintained all along, that Rodney was guilty and Terrell was (for some inscrutable reason) lying about his involvement, then why threaten to prosecute him? To prosecute him, the state would have to believe he was guilty. It would have been almost impossible for both Terrell and Rodney to be guilty, since one story contradicted the other. And yet Tierney was simultaneously defending the verdict against Rodney and threatening to prosecute Terrell. It seemed she was trying to scare Terrell off the stand in order to preserve Rodney’s conviction. The Mobile District Attorney’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment, submitted via email, by phone, and in person.

 Tierney pressed on. “If he comes in here and says ‘it’s me pals,’ then it’s goodbye sunlight for the rest of his living life, and he’s young,” she said.

 Finally, after some additional back-and-forth, Knizely was allowed to proceed. “Mr. Moore,” he began, “you recall whenever a lady named Mrs. Finley was shot? Do you remember back in those days when you were called as a witness in this case?”

 Tierney interrupted again. “Judge, may I object sir, for one minute? Could you just, Your Honor, if I may respectfully ask that at least you instruct him that he does have the right under the Fifth Amendment not to make any statements.”

 “I thought I just did that,” McRae said, “but I’ll do it again. Under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution,” he told Terrell again, “you do not have to answer any question which could even possibly incriminate you. Do you understand that?”

 “Yes, sir, I understand it.”

 “Okay, proceed,” McRae said. But Tierney interrupted again.

 “And that the State would use anything he says today, Your Honor, against him.”

 “The State can and may,” the Judge said.

 “Yes, Your Honor, I understand,” Terrell said, “and I plead the Fifth Amendment.”

Year 18- Parole Hearing/ Parole Denied

After Rodney was denied parole for a second time, it was hoped that he would be granted parole at his 3rd parole hearing.  Again, Rodney had everything a parole board would look for, but his not being guilty may have played a role in his remaining in prison. A member of the victim’s family told the parole board that Rodney had deluded himself into believing he is innocent. When inmates come before the parole board, the parole board wants to hear that they are guilty and express remorse .Rodney refuses to say he is guilty for crimes he did not commit. It doesn’t matter that he has jobs lined up, family support, sponsors, supporting letters from co-workers, friends and even, as occurred during his previous parole, a letter from the arresting officer, the parole board wants to hear that a person is guilty.  Rodney  faces the prison dilemma of the wrongfully convicted: NYTIMES.

Below you will find links to articles and news reports concerning Rodney’s parole hearing:

Here is a WKRG TV (Mobile, AL) segment shortly before his parole hearing, a WKRG segment after his parole hearing, and a Mobile Press Register article before and after his parole hearing.  Here is another piece published in the Boston Review regarding his parole denial.  It is entitled Rehabilitation, Remose, and Innocence: Rodney Stanberry Tries for Parole. (Beth Schwartzapfel was runner up for a prestigious journalism award for her investigative piece about Rodney’s case)

As Rodney begins his 18th year of incarceration, will Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich work to release Rodney K. Stanberry?

This is a true travesty of justice.

Contact Mobile District Attorney Ashley Rich at (251) 574-6685 or or her Chief Investigator Mike Morgan at (251) 574-8400 or


Peace and Sincerely,

Artemesia Stanberry

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