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104 – How Did A Rare Joint Trial and Unreliable Witness Result in Two False 25-Year Prison Sentences?

104 – How Did A Rare Joint Trial and Unreliable Witness Result in Two False 25-Year Prison Sentences?

On February 20th, 2020, Kevin Baker and Sean Washington walked out of prison after spending twenty-five years locked up for a double-murder they didn’t commit. The trial that condemned them to a quarter century of incarceration relied on a sole witness who later acknowledged she was under the influence of crack cocaine at the time of the killings.

How did Kevin and Sean prove their innocence? Was justice for the victims ever attained? Tune in to this week’s jarring installment of Open Mike to find out.

Show Notes

[00:58] Kevin Baker’s and Sean Washington’s backgrounds and bios.

[01:47] Mike Morse: Kevin Baker and Sean Washington, welcome to Open Mike! Let’s start with Kevin. How long were you in prison for a murder you did not commit?

[02:21] MM: I know this is a really hard question, but how has this affected your life and the types of things you missed in prison?

[03:07] MM: Sean, do you want to answer that question?

[03:14] Sean Washington: Being in prison takes a toll on you. We’ve lost multiple family members, didn’t have the opportunity to be fathers to our children, we missed out on a lot. Prison does something psychological to you, too. Men who do time in prison suffer PTSD, just like people who go to war.

[04:01] MM: At 23 years old, before getting arrested, what were your plans for the future?

[05:39] MM: What was it like growing up in Camden, New Jersey?

[08:03] MM: I unfortunately have to bring you back to January 28th, 1995… there’s a double a murder that would change both of your lives forever…

[09:57] Sean encountered the bodies of Margaret Wilson and Rodney turner, initially mistaking Rodney’s body for his nephew’s, which made him distraught and compelled him to called 911 anonymously.

[10:34] MM: Five days later, an informant said her cousins were in the area. Did either of you know her cousins?

[12:51] MM: Were either one of you friends these witnesses? Did you used to hang out with either of them?

[14:30] MM: Police decided to make arrests on February 13th, 1995. Kevin you were taken into custody, and Sean, you ran from the police. What happened there?

[17:28] MM: Did either of you have the understanding that there was a bad identification?

[18:11} Kevin Baker: I knew it was a bad identification, because I wasn’t there! I’m starting to question if the witness was actually there… her story can’t make sense if I wasn’t there… there was nothing that corroborated her claim.

[20:28] MM: What kind of defense attorney did you have?

[21:41] MM: Did your lawyer ever interview your alibi witnesses?

[24:25] MM: Did anything happen with these lawyers? Did they get reprimanded or grieved?

[25:35] MM: I assume you were offered plea deals?

[26:53] MM: They never recovered weapons, DNA evidence, or more than one unreliable witness named Denise Rand?

[27:38] MM: Denise Rand was allegedly paid under a material witness statute.

[32:01} MM: Kevin and Sean had a joint trial.  

[33:31] MM: Too many people we interview didn’t make noise when it became apparent they were getting railroaded. But it sounds like you were making noise…

[35:04] MM: August 1st, 1996 you’re both convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced for sixty years. Did either of you think the truth would ever come out?

[37:88] MM: Sean, what happened to your 911 call that you placed?

[39:25] Sean’s case was a topic of discourse at a convention, which sparked the interest of several lawyers.

[42:47] MM: The witness who claimed you guys were guilty of murder died of breast cancer, but her friends came forward and told her you were innocent…

[45:58] MM: February 11th, 2020, you walk out of prison. What was that feeling like?

[47:38] MM: Kevin, where are you at? What are you doing now?

[48:16] MM: Sean, what about you?

[49:59] MM: Have either of you been compensated by the state of New Jersey?

[51:11] MM: What would you like other wrongfully convicted people to know?

[53:45] You need to advocate for your rights if you believe you’re innocent. No one will change the way the law is interpreted unless people stand up for the truth — even when the truth is being challenged.

[54:41] MM: Thank you both for your message and for urging our viewers to stay awake. Appreciate you both. Thank you for sharing your stories.

[55:13] MM: Thank you for watching and listening Open Mike. Another tragedy, and the state won’t compensate them. It’s unbelievable. It’s the same, old stuff. It’s frustrating and heartbreaking. We appreciate you for being part of our community. We’ll see you next time.   

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