Justice for Shandre Saunders an innocent man
Justice for Shandre Saunders an innocent man
Why this petition matters
In 2009 our Son, Grandchild, Nephew, Cousin and Friend Shandre Saunders was sentenced to 53 years in prison after a jury wrongfully convicted him of a crime he did not commit. Shandre was just 15 years old.
He was charged based on the facts which took place on September 7th, 2007. A Taxi driver Gregory Powell was accidentally shot in the side of his head, suffering severe injuries. Initially, the commonwealth charged Alonzo Clark for the shooting when they found the same type of calibre as that which was used in the shooting, in his house. However, a month later, they found that same calibre gun in Saunders Grandma’s house. Saunders DNA was found on the firearm used for the shooting amongst several other DNA’s which were not testified. The commonwealth dropped Clark’s charges and gave him a deal to lie on Saunders’s name and say that he had witnessed Saunders committing this act, in exchange for a deal on his own case. January 26, 2009, the Jury found Saunders guilty of three charges totalling 53 years.
Only a African-American 15 year old boy could be convicted of such a crime with such thin evidence and allegations.
The firearm which was used in the shooting was passed from Barksdale to Watts. And later to Saunders, who was asked to keep the gun in his grandma’s house because Watts was moving to the suburbs the next morning. Saunders, however, was not aware that Barksdale was guilty of the shooting, nor that this was the exact firearm used and thus willingly took the gun in. When the shooting occurred, Saunders was with his girlfriend Kizzy Coles, once they had heard the gun shots, they fled the area. Coles was subpoenaed to court to be a witness on Saunders behalf, she was sworn in, but the courts never let her testify because she was a credible witness, which would have aided his defence.
Initially, Saunders appealed his case to the court of appeals. The supreme court heard his case but dismissed his innocence and instead challenged his case on whether he was to be heard by a jury or judge as a juvenile. They gave him an order for a Habeas Corpus however, since Saunders was a juvenile with no funding or lawyer, he missed the Habeas deadline. In 2018 he hired Mr. Kevin Chapman at who discovered 3 affidavits to prove his innocence. The first affidavits was from Barksdale who committed the crime and has now come forward in admitting that he is guilty of the shooting and Saunders is innocent. The second affidavits is from Clark who admitted to giving false testimony against Saunders in exchange for a deal. The third and final affidavits is from Watts a man who witnessed the shooting and can testify that Saunders did not do it. (Please see the attached PowerPoint to view the affidavits).
Saunders has maintained his innocence from the beginning, and in 2019 filed his petition for writ for actual innocence with the aim of his case being re-heard by the courts. This was denied by the court of appeal in November 2021 for the reasons that; it took too long to bring the evidence up, Clark was a suspect and therefore his affidavits is not credible since he could be trying to help Saunders and that since Barksdale is locked up and a former gang member, he might be trying to help Saunders and thus his statement is not of credibility either. The court has refused to hear this new evidence and has done nothing to help this new evidence come to light.
Shandre’s charge was based upon one testimony and forensic evidence of the firearm alone. The prosecutor’s star witness testimony has now been recanted, as a false allegation. Moreover, the firearm was found a month after the shooting and several other DNA was found but never testified. There is no further physical evidence to prove that Saunders was guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Shandre has now been in prison for 15 years, half of his life. His family has felt his absence in every milestone he has taken from a 15-year-old boy to a 30-year-old man. He was stripped of his freedom, family and friends and has missed the most valuable years of his early adulthood as an innocent man. Shandre has endured some of the harshest conditions including verbal, physical and racial abuse. And we cannot fathom him spending any more days, months or years behind bars for an alleged crime he did not commit. His sentence to 53 years is staggering and what some refer to as ‘death by incarceration’. But with your help and support we can spread awareness and exonerate him.
Despite his heartache, Shandre remains positive and the same pure hearted man he always has been. During his time, he has undertaken every possible course in bettering himself and his knowledge and I have no doubt upon his return, with his creative ways, and innovative ideas, he will be a true asset to society.
In our long fight to save Shandre and having almost given up on the flawed judicial system we turn to our community to help. We need your support and ask that you please sign and share this petition to gain the attention of the entire community in asking the Governor of Virginia, Honorable Governor Glenn Youngkin to overturn this miscarriage of justice and grant him his deserved freedom.
Sometimes our court system makes mistakes, and this case is a prime example of those injustices which occur when the system fails us.
Thank you for your support.