Conviction Integrity

In 2015, State’s Attorney Mosby reconfigured and expanded the Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU), charging the division with investigating claims of actual innocence and wrongful convictions. Today, the CIU is the oldest and most active Conviction Integrity Unit in the state and is led by a division chief, and staffed by five Assistant State’s Attorneys (ASA) and two law clerks.  In 2018, the CIU expanded to include a new, grant-funded investigator dedicated to investigating the claims of actual innocence and wrongful conviction. The federal grant was received in partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project and the University of Baltimore’s Innocence Project Clinic.

In addition to investigating claims of actual innocence and wrongful conviction, the CIU ensures the integrity of convictions by handling a variety of collateral matters including petitions for expungement, modification motions, habeas petitions and other post-sentencing matters. The CIU also reviews all Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) requests from incarcerated individuals, which includes approximately 300 requests a year.

Freeing the Innocent

In partnership with the Innocence Project, the CIU led the exoneration of 11 innocent men and one vacated conviction:

David Morris  

On November 3, 2021, David Morris was exonerated after spending nearly 17 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Morris was convicted in 2005 for the 2004 murder of Mustafa Carter and was sentenced to life suspend all but fifty years. After a thorough investigation, the CIU concluded that: an alternative suspect was identified and investigated pre-trial but not disclosed to the defense; DNA on the victim’s pants excluded Mr. Morris; statements of the sole identifying witness were contradictory; and crime scene analysis as well as additional witnesses strongly suggested Mr. Morris was not involved.

Paul Madison 

On December 21, 2021, Paul Madison had his murder conviction vacated and was released after 30 years in prison. Mr. Madison was convicted along with his co-defendant Clarence Colston for the December 1990 murder of William Richardson in Cherry Hill, Baltimore City. The case against Madison rested almost exclusively on the uncorroborated testimony of a jailhouse informant who was promised a deal to testify in exchange for dropping felony narcotics and handgun charges.

Melvin Thomas 

On December 15, 2020, Melvin Thomas was released from prison after being incarcerated for 19 years in prison for a non-fatal shooting that he did not commit. Mr. Thomas’s conviction was predicated wholly on the testimony of one witness, the victim. In 2018, the victim recanted his testimony. The Conviction Integrity Unit’s (CIU) investigation centered around the credibility of the victim’s recantation, alongside any new or newly evaluated evidence in determining innocence.

Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins, and Andrew Stewart 

On November 25, 2019, the CIU exonerated Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins, and Andrew Stewart, who were jailed for 36 years for a crime they didn’t commit. The three men were arrested on Thanksgiving Day in 1983 and convicted for the murder of a 14-year-old Baltimore teenager. View report 

Kenneth McPherson and Eric Simmons

On May 3, 2019 Kenneth McPherson and Eric Simmons, who are brothers, were released from prison after being incarcerated for nearly 25 years in prison for a murder they did not commit. The original case relied heavily upon the observation of a witness who recanted their testimony. That witness told three people that the defendants were not involved but the jury was not aware of these statements.

Clarence Shipley

In December 2018, the CIU collaborated with the University of Baltimore Innocence Project clinic and exonerated Clarence Shipley who served 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Mr. Shipley was wrongfully convicted for the murder of Kevin Smith in 1991.

Jerome Johnson

In July 2018, the CIU and its partners united to exonerate Jerome Johnson, the third person in three and a half years.  Mr. Johnson was released from prison after serving nearly 30 years in prison for the 1988 murder of Aaron Taylor who was shot to death at the Night Owl Bar.

Lamar Johnson

In September 2017, the CIU exonerated Lamar Johnson who spent nearly 14 years behind bars for the first-degree murder of Carlos Sawyer who was shot in 2005. The subsequent re-investigation of the case began in 2016, and resulted in several independent witnesses confirming that Johnson was not the shooter.

Malcolm Bryant

In May 2016, the CIU successfully exonerated Malcolm Bryant for the murder of 16-year-old Toni Bullock. Bryant spent 17 years behind bars after he was wrongfully convicted in 1999 of second-degree murder.