Breaking News: Jury Awards Washington $2.25 million
VIDEOThe Hook has learned that the jury in the civil case brought by Earl Washington, the man kept in jail 18 years for a murder he did not commit, has awarded him $2.25 million. Both the defendants and the jury exited the courthouse without comment. More details to follow.
"It's been a long time coming– 22 years,' exclaimed Earl Washingon, shortly after emerging from the federal courthouse in Downtown Charlottesville.
"In my 29 years of practice, I've never heard of a civil rights verdict this large," said Steven Rosenfield, the local member of the defense team.
Out back, behind the brick courthouse, the two adult children of now-deceased State Police investigator Curtis Reese Wilmore exchanged an emotional hug with lead defense attorney William Broaddus. The trio declined comment, as did the all five women and all four men of the jury, who also left the building via the back door.
The verdict validated the plaintiff's contention that the mentally infirm Washington was led into a false confession for the 1982 murder of a Culpeper woman. DNA later exonerated Washington and implicated another man in the crime that put an innocent Earl Washington on Virginia's death row.
"They were all wrong," said lead counsel Peter Neufeld (shown above at right in the photo with Washington) of the investigation. Neufeld, co-founder (along with O.J. trial vet Barry Scheck) of the renowned DNA-favoring legal clinic called the Innocence Project is now calling on Virginia to ensure that all future confessions are tape recorded. Then, if questions arise, Neufeld says, "All an officer needs to do is press the play button."