Glenn Ford, exonerated and released in March 2014 after nearly 30 years on Louisiana’s death row, died of lung cancer on June 29 at the age of 65.
That day, his case was cited by United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in his dissenting opinion in Glossip v. Gross as “striking” evidence “that the death penalty has been wrongly imposed.”
In 1984, an all-white jury in Shreveport, Louisiana, convicted Mr. Ford of the murder of an elderly white man based on the testimony of a witness who admitted that police had helped her fabricate her story.
Evidence later showed that the State failed to give defense counsel (an oil and gas lawyer who had never tried a case to a jury) information that corroborated Mr. Ford’s story that he was not present at or involved in the murder, including information from an informant, a suppressed police report related to the time of the crime, and evidence of the murder weapon, which implicated the true perpetrator.
In 2013, prosecutors revealed that another man charged in the crime had admitted to a confidential informant that he – not Mr. Ford – killed the victim. Prosecutors asked the court to vacate Mr. Ford’s conviction and sentence; the court ordered his release on March 10, 2014.
Earlier this year, the lead prosecutor on his case, A.M. “Marty” Stroud III, issued a public apology and urged the state to grant Mr. Ford compensation for his wrongful conviction.
Mr. Stroud admitted that, in pursuing a death sentence for Mr. Ford, he “was not as interested in justice as I was in winning” and concluded that “[n]o one should be given the ability to impose a sentence of death in any criminal proceeding.”
Interim Caddo Parish District Attorney Dale Cox responded that “we need to kill more people.” His comments drew national attention and last week he announced that he will not run for District Attorney, saying that his “position on the death penalty is a minority position among the members of this community.” Nearly half of Louisiana’s death sentences have come from Caddo Parish, and Mr. Cox personally prosecuted a third of the cases resulting in death sentences since 2010.
At the time of his release, Glenn Ford was Louisiana’s longest-serving death row prisoner and one of the longest-serving death row prisoners in the United States. He was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer shortly after his release and lived free for just fifteen months. No compensation was granted before he died.