Ronnie Rhodes has been in prison more than 30 years for a murder he has always insisted he did not commit. A recent investigation into his case by law students studying wrongful convictions at the Washburn University School of Law strongly suggests that Mr. Rhodes is innocent of fatally stabbing Cleother Burrell in 1981. The investigation shows that the case was plagued by inadequate police investigation and questionable testimony, primarily from the victim's roommate, whose clothes, hands, and shoes were covered in the victim's blood and who at first lied to the police about the source of the blood, then claimed he was an eyewitness to the stabbing and blamed Mr. Rhodes.
Yet the evidence that could finally exonerate Mr. Rhodes -- including hairs from the victim's fingernails (visually consistent with the roommates' hair) which could identify the assailant through DNA testing not available at the time of Mr. Rhodes' trial -- has been either lost or destroyed by the police department. The law students' investigation and subsequent discovery that crucial evidence is no longer available is chronicled in "Presumed Guilty," an online blog series by Ron Sylvester, legal affairs reporter with the Wichita Eagle. See http://www.kansas.com/presumedguilty/
In Kansas, only the Governor has the power to grant a pardon or commutation of sentence for a miscarriage of justice. Please sign this petition to let Gov. Brownback know that 30 years is more than enough and that you support executive clemency for Ronnie Rhodes.
The investigation by Washburn law students convincingly demonstrates that Mr. Rhodes was wrongfully convicted of the murder of Cleother Burrell in 1981. However, evidence which could conclusively exonerate Mr. Rhodes has been lost, or worse, was destroyed by the police department. Consequently, the failsafe of executive clemency is the only remedy available for the miscarriage of justice in Mr. Rhodes' case.
Despite his unjust incarceration, Mr. Rhodes has engaged in educational and occupational pursuits to aid his reintegration to society, and is well-equipped to lead a productive life outside of prison. He has been a successful mentor to younger inmates as part of Reaching Out From Within, a program focused on resolving problems without violence, and plans to continue his contributions to the program after his release.
Thirty years is more than enough. I urge you to grant Mr. Rhodes at least a commutation of sentence, if not a full pardon.