By Joe Cermak, Marion County Prosecutor's Office
This sad reality is gaining a larger place in our social consciousness. Whether we’re reading the news or scrolling through documentaries on Netflix, we see the stories of numerous wrongful convictions and the toll that they take on peoples’ lives.
The Criminal Justice section wants to use these blog posts to highlight cases of wrongful convictions. I watched this Vox video years ago, and I thought I would share.
It tells the story of the wrongful conviction, and eventual exoneration, of Robert Lee Stinson in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was a murder case where there were no witnesses–the police found the deceased body of Ione Cychosz in an empty lot. The video tells the story of an investigation and a prosecution long before DNA analysis or our age of ubiquitous surveillance video.
What led to Mr. Stinson’s wrongful conviction? The body of the victim looked like it had bite marks on it. Police officers canvassed the neighborhood near where the body was found –that is how they met Mr. Stinson. Police believed his teeth had an abnormality consistent with the bite marks on the victim’s body. From there, the case progressed and Mr. Stinson’s life unraveled.
As a deputy prosecutor, stories like these highlight the importance of not only trying to do the right thing (obtain justice) but doing it the right way. For those reasons, I am proud to work in the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, where my boss Prosecutor Ryan Mears has established a Conviction Integrity Unit.
Please watch the video and stay tuned to the Criminal Justice section. Our section is working on a future CLE exploring the topic of junk science, and I plan on having a Q&A blog post later this month about the new Conviction Integrity Unit at the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.