TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – An Alabama death row exoneree will share his story of wrongful conviction and his decades-long journey to freedom Friday, Feb. 2, at The University of Alabama.
Anthony Ray Hinton, convicted in 1985 of the murders of two fast-food restaurant managers near Birmingham, spent 30 years on death row before being freed in 2015 after a 15-year fight for the state to re-examine ballistics evidence and order a new trial.
Hinton will detail the circumstances of his wrongful incarceration, the racial biases that influenced the investigation and conviction, and the changes that need to be made to the justice system in “Surviving Criminal Justice in America,” during his keynote address at the Dr. Ethel H. Hall African American Heritage Month Colloquium, Friday at Hotel Capstone from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is open and free to the public.
Hinton was charged with the murders based on ballistics evidence that linked the bullets from the crime scene to an old revolver from his mother’s closet. A man shot but not seriously wounded in another robbery later identified Hinton from a lineup, though, at the time of that robbery, he was working in a locked warehouse 15 miles away.
Hinton’s court-appointed attorney could not find a competent ballistics expert to challenge the state’s evidence that the same gun was used in all three robberies and the two murders. There were no witnesses to the two murders and no forensics evidence at any of the three crime scenes.
In 2002, lawyers working with the Equal Justice Initiative began petitioning the state to re-examine the ballistics evidence after three of the nation’s top firearms examiners testified the bullets could not be matched to the gun. Although the state didn’t challenge the findings, it would not issue a new trial for Hinton. After 12 years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision, and the charges were later dropped.
Hinton was freed on April 3, 2015.
Hinton’s discussion is sponsored by the UA School of Social Work and held in honor of Dr. Ethel H. Hall, who died on Nov. 12, 2011. Dr. Hall was the first woman and African American to graduate from the University’s social work doctoral program.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.