A Common Thread with Men Wrongfully Convicted of Murder
BALTIMORE (WBFF) - A friendship born on the streets of Barclay and Brentwood Avenue has lasted 40 years between Steven Reynolds and Gary Washington.
“[Gary’s] humanity, his spirit, his kindness, will just blow your mind,” Reynolds said.
And the Washington he knew wasn’t capable of killing someone.
“It didn’t even make sense,” Reynolds said.
However, in 1987, a jury did convict Washington of murder. Thirty-one years later, that conviction was overturned.
Washington joins Malcolm Bryant, Lamar Johnson, and Jerome Johnson as those convicted of murder, sentenced to life in jail, only to see their convictions thrown out.
All four cases share a common factor: a child or teenager was a key witness in their prosecution.
Defense Attorney Jeremy Eldridge says young witnesses are more susceptible to suggestion. Their testimony can be unreliable.
“Often times, what you’re trying to do, is corroborate a child’s testimony, whether it’s through obtaining video evidence or other witnesses,” Eldridge said.
Evidence and witnesses that Shawn Armbrust of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project says were not utilized in some of these cases.
“The police get a lead and seize on the theory without doing some of the leg work they should have done,” Armbrust said.
Bryant, Jerome and Lamar Johnson not only saw their convictions overturned, but their cases dismissed by prosecutors. For Gary Washington, prosecutors plan to put him back on trial in January.
Correction: This story has been corrected to identify Shawn Armbrust as part of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project.