From Idaho Innocence Project press release:
After over twelve years of incarceration, Sarah Pearce’s quest for freedom ended today when she was granted post-conviction relief in the District Court of Idaho’s Third Judicial District. Sarah (31) was convicted of six felonies in 2003, including aiding and abetting the 2000 attempted murder of Linda LeBrane. She was sentenced to a fifteen year determinate period of incarceration with an indeterminate life sentence. Sarah has always steadfastly maintained her innocence.
After over five years of litigation, post-conviction relief was granted in the form of Sarah being resentenced to time served. Sarah said she looks forward to spending time with her family, jogging, attending school, and volunteering for the IIP. At the hearing Pearce said “This is a tragic misidentification … I did not commit this crime, but all the same I was punished for it. The experience goes almost too deep for words. I will try to walk away from this taking more from it than it has taken from me.”
The Idaho Innocence Project (IIP) and her attorneys have been working to free Sarah since 2007. A petition for post-conviction relief was filed in 2008 after IIP staff and volunteers obtained affidavits from several trial witnesses suggesting that another suspect, not Sarah, was LeBrane’s female attacker. Sarah’s petition was later amended to claim that her constitutional rights were violated when it was discovered that Canyon County law enforcement officers withheld a rescored polygraph examination of the very same female suspect.
Sarah appeared today in the same Canyon County courtroom where she was originally convicted and sentenced. She was accompanied by her attorneys—Scott Fouser (Fouser Law Offices, P.A.), Jared Hoskins (IIP), and Steve Andersen (Andersen Banducci, PLLC)—her family, several IIP representatives and volunteers who have assisted with the case including Dr. Greg Hampikian (founder and Director of the IIP at BSU), Rick Visser (Former IIP attorney), Debbie Thompson, Ginny Hatch, Leon Rothstein, Joy Garrison, and Mikel Hautzinger. Dr. Charles Honts, professor of psychology at BSU volunteered as a polygraph expert on Sarah’s case.
The IIP has had its funding drastically cut after it was not awarded a competitive Department of Justice grant this year but continues to offer DNA support to attorneys litigating cases of actual and demonstrable innocence. Donations to the Idaho Innocence Project can be made online: http://innocenceproject.boisestate.edu
Sarah, We wish you the very best going forward. There are no words to describe what you had to endure and the manifest injustice done to you and so many thousands of other women across the nation. Over a decade of your best years, as a woman were stolen from you. The women exonerees are all too rare and this must be addressed. When innocent women are incarcerated in the Hell-holes of America, this has deeper implications and consequences for our society, when their lives are so easily taken down and destroyed. Prisons were designed and built for violent men, not women. The alarming rate of growth of incarcerating women is disturbing in a broken system that is looking for “easy” convictions and $$$’s. This is self-destructing the nation, and turns America “land of the free” into a myth.
Sarah, It was great meeting you at the Innocence Network Conference 2015, Orlando, FL!
¿ Calling hours for those who withheld favorable evidence ?
It should be a felony, not an ethics violation, for a prosecutor to withhold favorable evidence, exculpatory evidence and new evidence that would have shown the person was innocent. And if any of this was given to the DA/County Attorney/police dept./the AG’s office and they ALL chose to ignore for years — since the Duke/Nifong prosecutorial misconduct, which resulted in the ABA Rule to Amend ER 3.8 — which means the “new evidence” proof of innocence has now become “old”.
Mark, Which other states had their funding cut. It would be helpful to work with a list. What is needed to maintain funding?
Please ask the people in the Washington D.C. area to show this newspaper story to the United States Supreme Court Justices in Washington D.C. so they can start reading some of the TRUE facts of the case of the wrongful conviction of William Thomas Zeigler. We are so very Grateful that they are the ones who have Tommy’s life in their hands right now. We believe with all of our hearts that the United States Supreme Court WILL give Tommy his long awaited Justice now. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the games played by the Orange County Florida Prosecutors Office in their rush to judgment to convict my innocent client Tommy Zeigler. Stay tuned there’s lots more to soon reveal that has just been unearthed! But for now, after over 3 decades of his suffering, victim Tommy Zeigler’s life and the truth about the facts of his case are in the hands of the honorable men and woman of the United States Supreme Court. We await their decision with justice on our minds and with hopeful, grateful hearts. http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/local-investigator-hopes-withheld-evidence-will-help-free-death-row-inmate/2166895
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I just watched Dateline. I am so sorry for Sarah’s suffering for all this time. She will never get back the years SHE LOST in prison for a crime she did not commit. I am disgusted with Linda LeBtane and her refusal to admit Sarah did not attack her. I was sympathetic at first to her story but I am furious now at her inability to admit she is wrong. This is such an injustice!! Sarah, I am sorry for your suffering. You are in my thoughts and I hope you can find peace.
This was ridiculous. Ms lebrane stated the woman was as short or shorter than her. I’m 5’1″ and sure as hell know when someone is my stature. In fact the “lineup” only had one shorter woman.
I think the people responsible for her wrongful conviction should do the time she did.
Here is something the article fails to mention though – the man who was on her side (John Bujak, the newly elected county prosecutor) and was pivotal in helping her gain freedom. He LOST pretty much everything for this though – he was forced to step down from his position, was arrested repeatedly, had to file bankruptcy…his name was smeared, his law license suspended. He was eventually found not guilty on 2 of the charges stemming from his investigational discoveries, and a judge threw out the third case -no real case existed. He ran for Libertarian governor of Idaho last year, but was so smeared and his final story was so hidden, that he lost. People remember him as the guy who cost the county millions! No one seems to remember he is the guy who worked with the Innocence people and freed this poor gal. Please realize this case nearly ruined his life too, all because he exposed a good old boy’s ring in Canyon County, Idaho.
So happy for her,Gives me hope for my Daughter that’s been in for 20 years in Oklahoma.
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