A terrific opinion editorial from Louisiana exoneree Shareef Cousin, who’s case is featured on our New Orleans page here, was posted on CNN.com yesterday. Cousin’s editorial discusses the way prosecutors railroaded him onto death row by withholding favorable evidence in his case, and coincides with the return of “Death Row Stories” on CNN which began last night.
Here is an excerpt from Cousin’s post. Read it in full here.
I was once the youngest person in the U.S. on death row. And I was innocent.
There was videotape of me in 1995, at 16, playing basketball just before the time of a murder in New Orleans’ French Quarter. There was even a clock showing the time on the videotape. My basketball coach was driving me and my teammates home at the time of the crime.
My airtight alibi didn’t matter.
The eyewitness to the murder, who was on a first date with the victim, told the police she was not wearing her contact lenses or glasses and could only see shapes — critical information that the prosecution withheld from my attorneys. She was pressured to change her story. At my trial, she identified me as the killer and told the jury, “I will never forget that face.”
A detective said two other witnesses identified me as the killer, but it later came out that he had lied to get the arrest warrant. The prosecution pressured another witness into saying he heard me brag about the murder, which was untrue…
Four years after being sentenced to death, I heard on TV that the murder charge against me was being dropped. The Louisiana Supreme Court later disciplined the prosecutor, Roger Jordan, and gave him a three-month suspension. The suspension was waived, however, on the provision that he not engage in any more ethical breaches for a year.