New Orleans Man Exonerated after Prosecution Finds Hidden Evidence

The entrance to the prison of Angola, Louisiana. The Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola, nicknamed "Alcatraz of the South" and "The Farm," is a maximum-security prison farm in Louisiana operated by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections. It is named Angola after the former plantation that occupied this area, named after the African country that was the origin of many enslaved Africans brought to Louisiana in times of slavery. Angola Prison is the largest maximum security prison in the United States [with 6,300 inmates and 1,800 staff including corrections officers, janitors, maintenance staff and warders. It sits on 7,300 acres of land formerly known as Angola Plantations, bordered on three sides by the Mississippi River.
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Cedric Dent, 47, was wrongly convicted of murder in 1997. After more than 20 years in prison, a judge on Monday ruled to vacate his conviction, and prosecutors declined to pursue the case because Dent was the victim of an unfair trial, according to the New York Daily News.
Dent was charged with shooting and killing Anthony Milton outside a supermarket in New Orleans. According to an investigation by The Innocence Project New Orleans, prosecutors withheld documents, including testimony that the description of the shooter did not match Dent. In addition, a key witness changed his story several times before the trial.
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Any evidence that would have cleared Dent's name was deliberately withheld from trial. This "justice system" really will do almost anything just to lock up a black man.
More on the case from CBS News:
“Cedric Dent is a victim of the failure of every system put in place to protect his rights as a criminal accused – a police department that did what was necessary to investigate a serious crime; Attorneys who did not have the resources or the wherewithal to investigate his case; and a district attorney's office that would have withheld evidence that should have been turned over and helped Mr. Dent get the not-guilty verdict he deserved in court," said Meredith Angelson, one of Mr. Dent's attorneys, in one of statement published by the organization.
A statement from District Attorney Jason Williams' office noted that Dent had been convicted by a non-unanimous jury -- a verdict that would now not be accepted under Louisiana law or U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
“Following a thorough review of Mr. Dent's case, our office concluded that, like many convictions decided by unanimous juries, his guilty verdict came from an unfair trial precisely because one of the 12 jurors voted in favor of an acquittal and for constitutionally invalid assistance from his defense attorney,” the statement said. "The legal system has failed Mr. Dent, and just as clearly it has failed the victim of this crime and his family."
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Dent was actually the nephew of another exonerated man, Elvis Brooks. According to the Innocence Project, Brooks was released in 2019 after 42 years in prison. He was 62 when he got home. His case was similar to Dent's in the way key evidence was withheld at trial. However, prosecutors only released him if he pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
The National Relief Registry will now look for another name to add to its list. According to their database, official misconduct was responsible for almost 60 percent of the wrongful conviction. According to the Innocence Project, an estimated 20,000 are currently unjustly imprisoned. Too many people are missing out on their lives and their constitutional rights are being violated because the people in charge of making their case might not care whether they are truly guilty or innocent.
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