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Senate Delays Vote on Wrongful Conviction Compensation

Anthony Ray Hinton

A state Senate committee has delayed a vote as to whether a man who was freed after spending nearly three decades on death row is entitled to financial compensation.

State Senator Paul Bussman has proposed legislation that would grant Anthony Ray Hinton $1.5 million in compensation over three years. Hinton was freed in 2015 after spending 28 years on Alabama’s death row for two murders that occurred during separate robberies of fast food restaurants in Birmingham in 1985.

Bullets recovered from the crime scenes were the key evidence prosecutors said linked Hinton to the murders. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hinton’s legal defense was so poor it was unconstitutional, and prosecutors dropped plans for a second trial when forensic experts were unable to link those bullets to a gun found in Hinton’s home.

State law allows compensation for those wrongfully convicted. But the Alabama Finance Department and Attorney General Steve Marshall oppose the bill, saying Hinton was never actually proven innocent. Senator Bussman argues Hinton should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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