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Maryland officials award $3 million to Baltimore man who spent 31 years wrongfully imprisoned

BALTIMORE — Maryland officials on Wednesday awarded greater than $3 million to a Baltimore man who served 31 years in jail earlier than he was exonerated, one of many largest funds underneath a 2021 legislation that reformed how the state compensates folks who have been wrongfully convicted.

Gary Washington, 63, met privately with Gov. Wes Moore after which watched silently because the three-member Maryland Board of Public Works accepted $2,982,205 that shall be paid to him in seven installments via early 2027.

Washington was launched in 2018 after spending 11,459 days in jail for his conviction of first-degree homicide and use of a handgun in a criminal offense of violence within the 1986 deadly capturing of Faheem Ali. The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office dismissed the costs towards him in early 2019.

Moore, a Democrat, apologized to Washington and his spouse, Theresa, throughout the public assembly on the State House after spending time, and praying, collectively within the governor’s workplace.

“There are no words that can convey how sorry I am to you two today, how sorry we are to both of you for what you had to endure,” Moore mentioned. “On behalf of the entire state, I’m sorry for the failure of the justice system.”

A Baltimore City Circuit Court decide vacated Washington’s convictions, partly, due to testimony from a witness who was 12 years outdated on the time of the capturing and later recanted and mentioned police compelled him to falsely determine Washington.

In a federal lawsuit filed in 2019 towards 5 former Baltimore Police officers, Washington mentioned detectives investigating Ali’s demise coerced that witness, Otis Robinson, and a 13-year-old lady into testifying by threatening to take them away from their dad and mom.

A U.S. District Court decide ruled in favor of the officers last year. Washington’s lawyer, Renee Spence, accompanied him to the State House for the board assembly and declined to remark Wednesday, citing an enchantment in that case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.

Washington is the 14th particular person to obtain compensation underneath the Walter Lomax Act, the 2021 state legislation named after a man who spent nearly 40 years behind bars for a homicide he didn’t commit.

The state board — which incorporates Moore, Treasurer Dereck Davis and Comptroller Brooke Lierman — has beforehand awarded greater than $9.2 million for the reason that legislation went into impact and extra underneath an earlier legislation that expanded eligibility of wrongfully convicted folks.

Washington shall be paid $94,911, the present median family revenue in Maryland, for every of his 31 years served.

The complete shall be shut to the roughly $3 million that Lomax was awarded in 2019, and greater than the $2.9 million awarded final yr to John Huffington, a Harford County man who wrongfully spent 32 years in jail for an notorious 1981 double homicide.

“There is no amount that can undo the injustice that can make up for what this state took from you,” Moore mentioned.

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