American freed 31 years after wrongly sentenced to life for murder: witness admits mistake
Steph Deschamps / April 28, 2022
An American man sentenced to life in prison 31 years ago was released Wednesday. Thomas Raynard James, 55, had been convicted of a murder committed during a robbery in 1990 in Miami, based on the testimony of a single eyewitness. The latter admitted having made a mistake.
The American newspaper The New York Times writes that during a police investigation into a 1990 apartment murder, information about a Thomas James or Tommy James pointed the investigation to Thomas Raynard James, then 23 years old. A photo of the innocent American was later recognized by an eyewitness, after which James was sentenced to life in prison.
Other than the testimony, there was no physical evidence linking the man, or anyone else, to the murder. I'm sure I'll never forget his face and eyes, said Dorothy Walton, a key witness and the victim's daughter-in-law, who was in the apartment at the time. James himself has always denied his guilt and claimed that he never visited the apartment in question. For decades, James and his family have pursued legal action to secure his release, but all attempts have failed. Over the years, the witness began to doubt his story and finally admitted under oath that he made a mistake.
According to the prosecutor's office, investigations have shown that Thomas Raynard James is in fact innocent. His conviction was therefore overturned and he was allowed to go free. Miami District Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle called it an unfortunate case of mistaken identity. The identity of the real killer could never be determined. Thomas Raynard James, now free and cleared, will create an organization to support the wrongly convicted.