A prosecutor has confessed that his failure to follow up alternative leads in the robbery and murder of a Louisiana jeweller led to a man being wrongly put on death row for nearly 30 years, Sky News reports.
Marty Stroud said he was a “coward” who was “caught up in the culture of winning” when in 1984 Glenn Ford was falsely convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Isadore Rozeman in Shreveport.
Mr Ford spent nearly three decades on death row in Louisiana’s maximum-security Angola prison until new evidence revealed he did not commit the murder. The father-of-four was released from prison last year, but was diagnosed with lung cancer soon afterwards and died in a hospice in June this year at the age of 65.
Mr Stroud, who was 32 at the time he took the case, was working his first death penalty case as a prosecutor. In an episode of CBS’s 60 Minutes on Sunday, Mr Stroud said Mr Ford had worked for Mr Rozeman and had admitted pawning some of the jewellery stolen during the robbery.
He said: “I ended up, without anybody else’s help, putting a man on death row who didn’t belong there. “There was a question about other people’s involvement, I should have followed up on that. I didn’t do that.
“I was arrogant, narcissistic … caught up in the culture of winning. “I think my failure to say something can only be described as cowardice. I was a coward.” Mr Stroud told CBS he went out to celebrate with his legal team after securing the conviction.
He said: “I had drinks. I slapped people on the back. We sang songs. That was utterly disgusting. “You know, it … you see Mother Justice sometimes, and … and she has a blindfold over her eyes. She was crying that night because that wasn’t justice. That wasn’t justice at all.”
New evidence came to light after one of the initial suspects, Jake Robinson, told a police informant he had killed Mr Rozeman. Robinson is now in prison for another murder. Mr Stroud wrote a letter to Mr Ford before his death, in which he admitted his role in his wrongful conviction.
In an interview before his death, Mr Ford said: “He didn’t only take from me – he took from my whole family … I don’t [forgive him], but I’m still trying to.” The State of Louisiana rejected a claim for $330,000 compensation by Mr Ford.