Exonerate Jerome Burgess and send him home. Wrongfully convicted since the age of 19.

Exonerate Jerome Burgess and send him home. Wrongfully convicted since the age of 19.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!
At 1,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!
Ashley Burgess started this petition to Shaun King and

In 2008 my brother was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. I do not share that with everyone yet when I do, I can see them begin to judge. Then I have to explain to them that my brother was present during the commission of a crime. He did not pull the trigger and was not aware of the fact that the actual shooter had a gun. The state of Georgia argued that he was “party to a crime” and that was enough for him to receive the same sentence as the shooter. I relive that court day in mind almost daily. I remember my brother’s lawyer asking the shooter on the stand 3 questions: What role did Mr. Burgess play in the shooting? Was Mr. Burgess aware that you had a gun? Was this a planned shooting? The shooter calmly stated that my brother played no role in the shooting, was unaware of the presence of a gun, and the shooting was not planned. According to the shooter he “just wanted to scare someone”.

It was at that moment I knew my brother was coming home, I can recall the lead detective and the District Attorney being out in the hallway after the testimony. They were angry that things were going in my brother’s favor and they started yelling at each other stating, “You better get your man” referring to my brother. I was pleased as I knew that my brother would be able to continue his college education and be there to support the family. When they read the verdict, I was shocked, I think the entire courtroom was shocked. I can still feel that pain in my chest as my eyes begin to swell with tears. I remember my mother falling to the floor as if the life had been pushed from her body. How could this happen? How could a young man college-bound, working, and who had never been in trouble with the law be sentenced to life in prison? It angers me because there are real criminals on the street right now and my brother is sitting in prison for life. I’m not a lawyer and none of my degrees are in criminal justice but my brother’s wrongful conviction has sparked my interest in the law. It makes me wonder how an institution created to protect the people and uphold the law, instead serve to destroy families and communities. I reviewed Party to a Crime in Georgia and I found that in order for the law to apply the individual must have taken part in any of the following: (1) Directly commits the crime; (2) Intentionally causes some other person to commit the crime under such circumstances that the other person is not guilty of any crime either in fact or because of legal incapacity; (3) Intentionally aids or abets in the commission of the crime; or (4) Intentionally advises, encourages, hires, counsels, or procures another to commit the crime. 

Based on this there is no way that my brother should still be in prison as the shooter himself took the stand and testified to the fact that my brother played no role in this senseless act. I think that the District Attorney was banking on painting my brother out to be a violent gang member, which they were unable to prove either. They stated that my brother's nickname that he has had since birth was actually a gang alias, this is the same name that had been given to him even before relocating to Georgia. Nobody seemed to care that he was a productive member of society working hard to support his family, they looked at this young black man and immediately thought, guilty. I do not think the courts recognized my fire or the lengths that I will go to clear my brother's name. Someone once said the pen is mightier than the sword and I will continue to spread the word about this injustice until my brother is back at home where he needs to be and until someone begins to shed light on the wrongfully convicted in the state of Georgia and across the country. As a social worker I am obligated to adhere to the ethical standards and values that guide my profession, this includes the advocating for vulnerable populations and promoting social justice. I would be doing the profession a disservice if I do not continue to fight this battle.

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!
At 1,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!