Terrence Richardson and Ferrone Claiborne have been wrongfully incarcerated for 20+ years
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The Story of #NotGuiltyServingLife
· On the morning of April 25, 1998, at roughly 11:00 AM, Officer Gibson was shot in the abdomen in the woods behind the Waverly Village apartment complex in Waverly, Virginia.
· Before he died, Officer Gibson gave distinct descriptions of his assailants, specifically that “one of them had dreadlocks”
· Two witnesses were immediately known to police; a 10-year-old girl who was playing nearby with her 5-year-old cousin and a 15-year-old girl who called 911 after hearing the gunshot.
· One of the two witnesses gave a written statement describing a man with “dreadlocks running from the scene” and identified a person in a lineup that WAS NOT Terrence and Ferrone.
· Terrence was 27 years old at the time of the shooting, is short in stature with a slender build and closely cropped cornrows, braided towards the back of his head. Ferrone was 22 years old at the time of the shooting, tall, with a slender build and a bald haircut. Clearly, neither Terrence nor Ferrone matched the description of either assailant as described by Officer Gibson.
· Despite the detailed description of the suspects given by Officer Gibson, Investigators undertook what can only be described as a round-up of many young black men in the area.
· Black males in Waverly, Virginia were gathered and interrogated until they provided the Investigators with any random name or submitted to a lie detector test.
· It is still unclear why Investigators chose to ignore the witness identification, but on April 26, 1998, Terrence was arrested and charged with the capital murder of Officer Gibson. Two days later, on April 28, 1998, Ferrone was also arrested and charged with the capital murder of Officer Gibson.
· In what can only be described as unheard of, both Terrence and Ferrone, two black men accused of killing a white police officer in the line of duty, were granted bail, and would later bond out of jail.
· Initially, Terrence and Ferrone pled not guilty to the charges lodged against them, but on December 8, 1999, in fear of the death penalty and at the urgency of inadequate Attorney’s, they accepted unprecedented plea deals for anyone suspected of killing a police officer.
· Both men made it clear on record that they maintained their innocence, but accepted plea deals in fear of being put to death. Terrence pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and Ferrone pled guilty to accessory after the fact of involuntary manslaughter.
· On March 8, 2000. Terrence was sentenced to ten years in the state penitentiary with five years suspended, to be followed by two years on probation. Ferrone was sentenced to 12 months in custody, which equated to time served and he was released.
· Both men thought their nightmare journey was over, until less than a year later when they were indicted by the FBI for the same murder of Officer Gibson, as well as several fabricated drug charges.
· Terrence and Ferrone were charged with selling hundreds of Kilos of cocaine; yet, there were no drugs, proceeds from drugs, proof of drug deals, fancy cars, jewelry, drug paraphernalia, absolutely nothing to support these charges besides testimony from several drug dealers who testified in exchange for their own freedom.
· The Jury found Terrence and Ferrone not guilty of the murder of Officer Gibson, but based solely on the testimony of witnesses, they found them guilty of one drug count.
· The drug conviction would have resulted in a maximum penalty of 20 years. However, the Court enhanced the sentence of Terrence and Ferrone to Life in prison based in large part to the state court guilty pleas.
· The Court relied on the decision in United States v. Watts, 519 U.S. 148, 156 (1997), which permits the Court to make a finding of guilt by a preponderance of the evidence, even if found not guilty.
Life After Justice (LAJ) a 501c(3) public charity(tax ID #01064823) that litigates, advocates and provides mental health support to men and women wrongfully convicted; brings this petition on behalf of Terrence and Ferrone’s fight for justice.
Terrence and Ferrone have adamantly maintained their innocence since day one. We need 1 Million signatures to urge the Sussex County Commonwealth Attorney, Governor of Virginia and United States Attorney to do the following:
1. Withdraw the State Court guilty pleas, and/or
2. Grant Clemency, and/or
3. Exonerate Terrence and Ferrone.
The Court of Law has failed them, so The Court of Public Outcry must save them!
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