4 Crazy Stories Of Wrongfully Accused Killers That Will Make Your Head Spin
The Netflix show Making a Murderer has enthralled viewers who question whether or not Steven Avery is actually guilty of murdering 25-year-old Teresa Halbach. Avery was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but he still claims his innocence. If Avery didn't kill Halbach, it definitely wouldn't be the first time an American was locked up for a murder they didn't commit — there are some crazy stories of wrongfully accused killers.
What's so mind-boggling about Avery's situation is that he spent 18 years in prisons for rape, and was exonerated and released in 2003 after DNA testing pinned the assault on another man. A large part of his initial conviction was tied to the victim identifying Avery in court as her attacker, but the DNA evidence tied the rape to a man who looked very similar to Avery. Only two years later, he was convicted of another crime he claims he didn't commit, and has now spent a total of 26 years behind bars.
Being locked away in prison can't be easy, but it must be so much worse to be there for a crime you didn't even commit. Here are four insane stories of people wrongfully convicted of murder that might make you lose what remaining faith you had in the U.S. justice system:
In 1990, Jonathan Fleming was convicted and locked up for the murder of his friend, Daryl "Black" Rush. Fleming was on vacation at Disney World when Rush was killed in August 1989, but a witness testified to seeing Fleming commit the murder. Despite evidence of a plane ticket to Florida, videos, and postcards, the prosecution argued that he could have flown back to New York, killed Rush, and returned to Disney World. The key witness also recanted her statement before Avery was sentenced, alleging that she accused him in exchange for grand larceny charges against her being dropped, but the prosecutors claimed she was lying.
The case was reopened in 2013 and Fleming was exonerated and released in 2014 after new evidence proved that he was in Florida hours before the murder took place and previously ignored witnesses suggested someone else killed Rush. Fleming spent more than two decades in prison.
David McCallum was wrongfully convicted of kidnapping and murdering 20-year-old Nathan Blenner when he was 16. After being arrested in 1985 along with Willie Stuckey, the two teenagers confessed to the crimes, but McCallum claimed in the new documentary David & Me that the police pressured him to confess and implicate Stuckey after telling him that Stuckey had done the same to him.
In 2014, McCallum and Stuckey were both exonerated after new DNA tests and fingerprint analysis from the stolen car used in the abduction and murder matched other people. Sadly, Stuckey died in prison in 2001, but McCallum returned to the real world after 28 years in prison.
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter
Former boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who died in 2014, became an advocate for wrongly convicted felons after spending 19 years in jail for a triple murder. Carter and an acquaintance, John Artis, were arrested and convicted for a 1966 murder of two men and one woman in New Jersey. In 1976, the two key witnesses recanted their testimonies, leading the New Jersey Supreme Court to overturn the men's convictions. However, one witness affirmed his original story in the second trial and Carter and Artis were convicted a second time.
While in jail, Carter wrote an autobiography, The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender to #45472, that attracted the attention of an American teenager living on a Canadian commune. The teen befriended Carter and the Canadians moved to New Jersey to help get Carter out of prison, discovering new evidence that they alleged the prosecution originally withheld. A federal judge eventually exonerated both men in 1985.
Michael Ray Hanline
California's longest-serving wrongfully convicted inmate was released in 2014 after 36 years behind bars, and only became completely free in April. Michael Ray Hanline was convicted for the murder of J.T. McGarry in 1980 after the prosecution argued that Hanline became violently jealous when he learned that he and McGarry were dating the same woman. While Hanline sat in prison, officials discovered that DNA from the crime scene didn't match Hanline or his alleged accomplice and that a key witness was on drugs while testifying.
Hanline was released in November 2014, but he had to wear an ankle bracelet while prosecutors reviewed his case and decided whether or not a retrial was necessary. In April, the district attorney dismissed the charges against Hanline, and he became a free man.