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Glenn Ford was sentenced to death in 1984 by a Caddo Parish jury for the murder of local Shreveport jeweler and watchmaker, Isadore Rozeman. The jury convicted Ford entirely on the basis of circumstantial evidence – no witness testimony or forensic evidence tied him to the scene of the crime. Thirty years later, Ford is appealing his case in federal court, alleging that the state withheld exculpatory evidence from his trial lawyers that pointed to another killer.

Now, the new testimony of an informant has been produced by the state that points to the same alternative suspect, and Ford’s conviction has been cast into doubt.

Ford never denied that he visited the victim on the day of his murder in Caddo Parish, Louisiana in 1983. But he always maintained that he came into possession of goods allegedly stolen from the victim during the commission of the crime innocently. The Shreveport Times recounts his story:

[Ford] admitted to being in Isadore Rozeman’s shop on the day he was killed but said he went there asking for work. Ford occasionally did yard work for the store owner.
Ford told about coming into contact with two men later in the day. One of the men, whom he called “O.B.,” asked Ford if he knew anyone who wanted to buy a .38-caliber gun, even though it wasn’t given to him.
The same man gave Ford jewelry that he wanted to be sold. Ford pawned the items that evening, and receipts showed they were similar to goods taken from Rozeman’s shop.
Ford later identified Jake Robinson in a photographic lineup as being one of the two men, but he denied knowing his brother, Henry. Ford said the men were involved in the homicide, but he didn’t want to identify them because he was afraid for his life.
In subsequent interviews, police told Ford that Jake Robinson had been arrested and they were looking for Henry Robinson. That’s when Ford identified Henry Robinson as “O.B.”
Ford was arrested Nov. 8, 1983, on charges of being in possession of stolen items. Eventually, Ford, the Robinson brothers and George Starks were arrested and indicted in Isadore Rozeman’s murder.

Ford went to trial the same year he was arrested. Yet one by one, the state dismissed the charges against the other suspects. It is unclear why.

Ford now alleges that exculpatory evidence was never turned over to the defense as it should have been under Brady v Maryland. This evidence suggested that Jake and Henry Robinson were involved in Rozeman’s murder and in possession of the murder weapon after his death.

The Shreveport Times reports that Ford’s federal habeas petition (which is currently before a federal judge) claims that six days after Rozeman died, Shreveport police received “information from two separate informants implicating the Robinson brothers and not Ford [in Rozeman’s murder]. The reports also cited multiple sources for the proposition that the Robinson brothers possessed the murder weapon after the crime.” Apparently this information, including a police report that  suggested Henry Robinson hid the murder weapon under a mattress at a relative’s home, was never disclosed to Ford’s attorneys.

Now, the Caddo Parish District Attorney is filing pleadings that contain new information about Jake Robinson’s involvement in the crime. More from the Shreveport Times:

In June and again on Monday, the DA’s office filed in the U.S. District Court in Shreveport supplements to the existing record that reveal during an investigation of an unrelated homicide, a “reliable informant” said Jake Robinson admitted to being the one who shot Isadore Rozeman. The statement was videotaped May 16.
The informant previously gave the same information to Caddo Parish sheriff’s Detective Terry Richardson during a two-part interview Feb. 19. The videos, as well as other related documents, are sealed from public viewing by court order.
Monday, another document was filed indicating a third interview of the informant was video recorded July 18. The informant repeated the same accusation against Robinson and added that Robinson told him he used his left hand to shoot Isadore Rozeman.

Caddo Parish District Attorney Charles Scott isn’t commenting on Ford’s status in light of this new evidence, nor is he offering to dismiss the charges against Ford – at least at this stage. However, it is difficult to see how Ford’s conviction does not get a good long look by the federal district court when even the Louisiana Supreme Court said that the evidence against him was “not overwhelming” and that “serious questions” were raised about the state’s case on appeal. One justice even questioned whether a reasonable juror could have convicted Ford on the basis of the evidence against him at trial.

What’s more, Ford was represented by an oil and gas lawyer who had never tried a criminal case in his life, and his penalty phase was handled by an attorney who had been out of law school barely 2 years at the time of trial.

Now that the Caddo DA has filed a response to Ford’s habeas petition, his attorneys will file a reply before the federal judge reviews the case. Ford has been on Louisiana’s death row for 25 years.

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