No pay for ex-inmate cleared in murder, but not other crimes

AP News
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Posted: Mar 27, 2015 7:35 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A north Louisiana judge Friday denied state compensation for Glenn Ford, a former death row inmate exonerated in a 1983 murder but, state lawyers say, still implicated in related crimes.

Ford's case recently gained new notoriety after the lead prosecutor at his1984 trial wrote a letter to the editor of a Shreveport newspaper, apologizing for the wrongful murder conviction, calling for state compensation for Ford and calling for an end to capital punishment.

Louisiana's Attorney General's Office opposed compensation for Ford, who was released last March after investigators found evidence that he did not kill jeweler Isadore Rozeman during a 1983 robbery.

State District Judge Katherine Clark Dorroh in Shreveport agreed, ruling that Ford cannot be compensated for the wrongful conviction under Louisiana law, despite proof that he wasn't present for the robbery and did not kill Rozeman.

"While Mr. Ford did not have the blood of Isadore Rozeman on his hands, he did not have clean hands, in that he knew the robbery was going to occur and did nothing," Dorroh wrote. She said he possessed stolen goods, he attempted to destroy evidence by selling items taken in the robbery, attempted to find buyers for the murder weapon used by the people he implicated in the murder and armed robbery and hindered the police investigation."

An attorney for an organization that helped win Ford's freedom expressed disappointment and said an appeal is planned.

"The ruling inflated the fact that Mr. Ford knew the people who committed the crime and insinuated that Mr. Ford was more involved in the crime than the facts in the record indicate," Kristin Wenstrom, a staff attorney with Innocence Project New Orleans, said in an emailed statement.

Ford has not commented publicly or granted interviews because he is battling advanced lung cancer, Wenstrom said earlier this week. "In his last days, we can only hope Mr. Ford finds some joy in the company of his friends and family because it is clear he will not receive any sort of relief from the State of Louisiana," she said in a statement Friday.

The Times of Shreveport published an open letter last Friday from former Caddo Parish prosecutor A.M. Stroud III, lead prosecutor in the Ford trial. Stroud openly apologized to Ford and said the case demonstrates that death sentences cannot be handed down fairly or with guarantees that people won't be put to death for crimes they didn't commit. In a subsequent interview, he said he had developed doubts about the fairness of the trial over the years.

A spokesman for Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said Caldwell's office had a responsibility to oppose compensation for Ford under Louisiana law.

"We are grateful that the Court has affirmed our position that Louisiana law prohibits an award in this matter," Aaron Sadler said in an email. "As the Court stated, it is bound to follow the law as written, and so is this office."