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After nearly 20 years, Minnesota man’s murder conviction overturned

Marvin Haynes was released from prison after nearly two decades for a wrongful murder conviction in connection to the fatal shooting of Harry “Randy” Sherer in 2004. Hennepin County Judge William Koch vacated the conviction, ruling that the evidence used was unreliable and constitutionally improper. At the time of the killing, Haynes was only 16 and his conviction had relied on eyewitness identification evidence. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said Haynes’ constitutional rights were violated during his 2005 trial. His conviction was overturned after evidence showed he did not match the physical description provided by the primary eyewitness and had been wrongfully convicted based on unreliable eyewitness identification and suggestive police lineups. Haynes’ release came after he served a life sentence and Miss Mary Moriarty said that he had been subjected to a “terrible injustice” and stated that the Prosecutor’s Office recognized the wrong done. Haynes, who is now 36, plans to visit his mother and find a job. This case highlights the issue of eyewitness misidentification, which contributes to the overwhelming majority of wrongful convictions and is often overturned by DNA testing. The Innocence Project stated that almost 28% of exonerations involve eyewitness identification and that evidence of suggestive police practices has been identified in nearly 80% of misidentification cases. The release of Haynes brings attention to a “height of injustice” and the need for better procedures and protocols to avoid wrongful convictions in cases of eyewitness identification.

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