Last meals of innocent people sentenced to death

An emotional new ad campaign from Amnesty International asks its viewers to stomach a hard truth — images of the last meals of wrongly executed American prisoners.

Leo Jones (Florida)


Jones was convicted of murdering a police officer in Jacksonville, Florida. Jones signed a confession after several hours of police interrogation, but he later claimed the confession was coerced. In the mid-1980s, the policeman who arrested Jones and the detective who took his confession were forced out of uniform for ethical violations. The policeman was later identified by a fellow officer as an “enforcer” who had used torture. Many witnesses came forward pointing to another suspect in the case. Jones was executed in 1998.


Claude Howard Jones (Texas)


Recent DNA tests raise serious doubts about the conviction of a man executed in Texas in 2000.  The tests revealed that a strand of hair found at the scene of a liquor-store shooting did not belong to Claude Jones, as was originally implied by the prosecution.  Instead, the hair belonged to the victim.  Jones was executed for the murder of the store’s owner. The strand of hair was the only piece of physical evidence that placed Jones at the scene of the crime, and this revelation raises the question of whether Texas executed the wrong person for the murder


Ruben Cantu (Texas)


Cantu was only 17 when he was charged with capital murder in Texas for the shooting death of a man during an attempted robbery. However, one key eyewitness who was wounded during the crime later said he was pressured by police to identify Cantu as the shooter. According to the Houston Chronicle, he later told police Cantu was not the assailant on two separate occasions.

Cantu was executed in 1993.


David Spence (Texas)


Spence was charged with murdering three teenagers in 1982. He was allegedly hired by a convenience store owner to kill another girl, and killed these victims by mistake. The convenience store owner, Muneer Deeb, was originally convicted and sentenced to death, but then was acquitted at a re-trial. The police lieutenant who supervised the investigation of Spence, Marvin Horton, later concluded: “I do not think David Spence committed this crime.” Ramon Salinas, the homicide detective who actually conducted the investigation, said: “My opinion is that David Spence was innocent. Nothing from the investigation ever led us to any evidence that he was involved.” No physical evidence connected Spence to the crime. The case against Spence was pursued by a zealous narcotics cop who relied on testimony of prison inmates who were granted favors in return for testimony.  He was executed in 1997.



Sources: Amnesty

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