Detectives Charged With Perjury In Wrongful Conviction Case

Three homicide detectives are accused of coercing a confession and lying about it in court
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2021 10:35 AM CDT
Detectives Charged With Perjury In Wrongful Conviction Case
In this file photo, Anthony Wright gets a kiss from his granddaughter Romera Wright, 1, and spends time with his family. Wright was freed in 2016 after a wrongful conviction. Now, the detectives who put him away are facing perjury charges.   (Michael Bryant/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

A man who spent 25 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of murder was set free after his second trial in 2016 cleared him. Now, a grand jury has indicted the three Philadelphia police officers who put him away in the first place and tried to keep him in prison decades later. Anthony Wright was 20 in 1991 when someone attacked his 77-year-old neighbor Louise Talley, the Washington Post reports. Homicide detectives Manuel Santiago, Martin Devlin, and Frank Jastrzembski brought him in for questioning. They say Wright confessed to the murder. But Wright says the confession was coerced after hours of threats and being told he’d be able to go home to his mom if he’d just sign a confession he hadn’t even read.

But DNA evidence surfaced that pointed to another suspect. Instead of setting Wright free, prosecutors tried him again. And the same homicide detectives stuck to the same story—that Wright had confessed. Wright got a settlement from the city for more than $9 million, and the new district attorney, Larry Krasner, has been actively tracking down instances of police misconduct. And now the detectives are facing charges of perjury for testifying that clothes linked to the crime scene were found in Wright’s home instead of the victim’s, and saying that Wright had freely confessed when he hadn’t. The statute of limitations has run out for testimony at the 1991 trial, but the district attorney is planning to try them for their testimony at Wright’s retrial. The detectives, through their attorney Brian McMonagle, say they are innocent, CNN reports. (More police misconduct stories.)

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