Exoneration in Arkansas

On Wednesday, John Brown was released from prison in Arkansas after his convictions were overturned by a Federal District Court in Arkansas last month. Brown had been convicted of aggravated robbery, rape, and murder in 1988. He had served twenty-eight years of a life sentence. Although prosecutors in Arkansas have appealed the overturning of the conviction, Arkansas’s request for Brown’s release to be stayed was denied.
Brown had been convicted in part because of a supposed confession by a co-defendant, Charlie Vaughn, even though Vaughn testified at trial that he was innocent, and the recording of Vaughn’s jailhouse statement was destroyed and never shown to defense attorneys. Vaughn had allegedly confessed after a previous informant had been made his cellmate.
Brown was also a victim of the withholding of exclusionary DNA evidence by prosecutors. After Brown’s original trial ended in a mistrial, prosecutors in the second trial, which resulted in Brown’s conviction, withheld DNA test results from the murder victim that connected only one of Brown’s co-defendants, Reginald Early, to the crime, and excluded Brown and another of his co-defendants. In 2015, Early confessed to having committed the crime alone.
Brown has been represented by, amongst others, the Midwest Innocence Project. Price McKeon and Caitlin Rearden published an article for KARK about the overturning of Brown’s conviction, available at: https://www.kark.com/news/local-news/update-man-released-from-prison-after-murder-conviction-overturned/1392149322

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