A.M. “Marty” Stroud III, the lead prosecutor responsible for sending Glenn Ford to death row for a murder he didn’t commit, apologized and called for abolition of the death penalty in an open letter published in the Shreveport Times.
Mr. Stroud wrote in response to the paper’s coverage of Mr. Ford’s struggle to obtain compensation for the nearly 30 years he wrongfully spent on death row. Mr. Ford was released on March 11, 2014, after the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s office filed a motion to vacate his conviction and death sentence based on new evidence that someone else committed the crime. Louisiana law allows compensation of $25,000 a year capped at $250,000 for the wrongfully convicted, but prosecutors are opposing Mr. Ford’s request.
“Glenn Ford should be compensated to every extent possible,” Mr. Stroud wrote. “The audacity of the state’s effort to deny Mr. Ford any compensation for the horrors he suffered in the name of Louisiana justice is appalling.”
In his letter, Mr. Stroud recounts the 1984 trial and how he and his colleagues went out and celebrated the death verdict with a few rounds of drinks. “I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself,” Stroud reflected. “I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.”
Mr. Stroud, now an attorney in private practice, said Mr. Ford’s case is an example of the arbitrariness of the death penalty. “No one should be given the ability to impose a sentence of death in any criminal proceeding,” he wrote. “We are simply incapable of devising a system that can fairly and impartially impose a sentence of death because we are all fallible human beings.”
In an interview with the Shreveport Times, he said the fact that he had selected an all-white jury to convict Mr. Ford, who is Black, led him to question the reliability of the death penalty. He calls for abolition of capital punishment: “The clear reality is that the death penalty is an anathema to any society that purports to call itself civilized. It is an abomination that continues to scar the fibers of this society and it will continue to do so until this barbaric penalty is outlawed.”
Mr. Ford was diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer shortly after his release from prison. Early indications of cancer went undiagnosed at Louisiana’s Angola Prison, where failing to treat death row inmates’ medical conditions is not uncommon. In February, doctors told him it had progressed to Stage 4 and he has only four to eight months to live. He hopes the compensation for the time he spent on death row could be passed on to his children and grandchildren.
Mr. Stroud apologized to Mr. Ford “for all the misery I have caused him and his family,” to the victim’s family “for giving them the false hope of some closure,” to the jurors, and to the court for his failure to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense as the law requires. “I end with the hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” he wrote. “But, I am also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it.”