Two Georgians wrongfully imprisoned for 25 years released
Darrell Lee Clark and his co-defendant, Cain Joshua Storey, were freed last week.
Two men from Georgia, United States, were freed last week after wrongfully spending the last 25 years in prison over murder convictions.
After podcasters and attorneys dug up new evidence proving their innocence, Darrell Lee Clark and Cain Joshua Storey were released from prison, after being sentenced as teenagers in a 1998 trial that accused them of shooting their friend, Brian Bowling, who was 15 at the time in '96.
Bowling died playing Russian roulette in the same room with Storey. Just moments before the gunshot which took Bowling's life, he was on the phone with his partner, telling her he was playing Russian roulette with a gun that his best friend Storey brought to the event, according to a statement by the Georgia Innocence Project (GIP). Floyd Country Police believed this account - which was Storey's account - at first.
However, he was then charged with manslaughter for providing Bowling with a gun, according to GIP. Days after, Bowling's family demanded that police charge Storey with murder - an escalation from the initial charge - which also connected Clark to the case as a co-defendant despite a corroborated alibi.
At the time, state prosecutors rhetorized that the two teenagers sought revenge from Bowling, and thus conspired to murder him, according to the GIP statement.
In a statement, Clark lamented: “You never think something like that is going to happen to you.
"Never would I have thought I would spend more than half my life in prison, especially for something I didn’t do. I’m just glad the truth finally came to light after 25 years. I’m so thankful for the Georgia Innocence Project and Proof Podcast for what they did. Without them, I would still be in prison."
The two friends were released on Thursday, according to their attorneys, which revealed that their innocence was asserted after motions for a new trial were filed on their behalf.
“We are elated, thrilled that he is finally home after all this time. It’s even better that it’s in time for the holidays,” Clark’s attorney Meagan Hurley said. “Twenty-five years is an incredibly long time to spend incarcerated for a crime you didn’t commit.”
The Bowlings, according to Hurley, eventually changed their mind about how the son died.
"They went into this process with an open mind,” Hurley said. “They were willing to hear out what the podcasters had to say and, eventually, the attorneys and sort of re-evaluated what the evidence actually was and came to the conclusion that, frankly, the first time around, everybody got it wrong."
Police coerced a key witness
Storey's attorney, Luke Martin, said on Monday that a motion was filed arguing that Storey was innocent. Storey pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and a 10-year sentence of time served, said Martin.
“He’s enjoying getting caught back up on the life that he missed,” Martin said. “He does feel vindicated. He’s been saying that he is innocent. He’s been telling everybody the truth of what happened for 25 years.”
An investigation into the matter showed that police coerced a key witness - a party hostess - to give false testimony about Clark and Storey. Martin argued that the police were uninterested in the truth; a simple autopsy would have exacted the way Bowling had died; that his death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"An autopsy in the case would have solved it, yet they refused to get an autopsy," Martin said. "That autopsy would have shown this was a self-inflicted gunshot wound."
The Floyd County Police Department has not yet commented on the matter.