Man Walks Free Years After Wrongful Conviction

Man Walks Free Years After Wrongful Conviction

( – Every place around the world has its own system of justice, but none of them are perfect. In the United States, criminal convictions occur when a judge or a jury of a defendant’s peers finds the evidence proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Nevertheless, innocent people sometimes go to prison. The National Registry of Exonerations has been tracking such instances, recording nearly 3,000 of them through 2021. One man convicted years ago was just given his freedom.

On November 6, David Sparks walked out of the prison a free man after spending the last 15 years behind bars. In September 2006, police picked up the then-16-year-old for breaking teen curfew in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Two years later, the court convicted Sparks of murder and locked him up. The Pennsylvania Innocence Project posted about his release on social media, welcoming him home. The organization said he walked out of prison into the “arms of his loving family and legal team.”

CBS News reported that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit found that witness accounts pointing to another suspect, Ivan Simmons, were suppressed by detectives — violating Sparks’ constitutional rights. Several people reportedly put Simmons — also a teen — at the scene, but he fled before police arrived. Sparks, on the other hand, called 911 and waited for emergency services to arrive. It was then that authorities detained him for breaking curfew.

At the trial, the prosecution reportedly relied on two teenage testimonies about what happened that night. The cousins allegedly gave inconsistent accounts, but it was enough to get a conviction. One of the two has since recanted much of her story. Unfortunately, Simmons was killed in 2006, so police were unable to properly question him about the murder. Officials now suspect Simmons, Sparks’ brother, and a third suspect of the killing.

In any case, the court found that Sparks was wrongfully convicted of the crime, exonerating him of Gary Hall’s murder. The Pennsylvania Innocence Project reported that the newly-freed man is looking forward to doing “everyday things” other free people “take for granted.”

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