Sunday, February 11, 2007
After serving more than 20 years in jail for a murder he did not commit, Timothy Atkins’ conviction was overturned when the California Innocence Project at California Western School of Law petitioned Judge Michael Tynan to consider new evidence that proved Atkins’ innocence.
“Timothy Atkins is an innocent man who has spent the majority of his life incarcerated for a crime he did not commit,” said California Western CrimProf Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project and Atkins’ lead attorney. “Judge Tynan should be praised for revisiting this case so many years later and making things right.”
Atkins was convicted of one count of murder and two counts of robbery on July 28, 1987, after being identified by a frightened woman who witnessed her husband being shot in the chest during an attempted carjacking. The police were led to Atkins when a woman named Denise Powell told police that Atkins had confessed to being an accomplice in the killing.
Recently, in a Los Angeles courtroom, Denise Powell testified that she fabricated the story of Atkins’ confession. In recanting testimony that helped convict Atkins, Powell said she made the confession up and was afraid of changing her story after lying to police.
In addition to the recantation of Powell’s testimony, the original defense attorney, David Wesley, also took the witness stand to bat for the man’s innocence.
“Although it has taken way too long and Tim can never get the years back, we are thrilled that the court has recognized that Timothy Atkins’ conviction cannot stand,” said California Western Professor Jan Stiglitz, co-director of the California Innocence Project. “We really appreciate that Judge Tynan was willing to give Atkins a hearing. Sadly, in many cases we cannot even get that far.”
This is the fifth client that has been released by the work of the California Innocence Project. Of more than 300 documented cases of wrongful conviction in the U.S., nearly two-thirds are the result of erroneous identification. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]