Walter Lomax was freed on December 13, 2006, after spending 39 years in prison for a murder that he did not commit. Hours earlier, Baltimore Circuit judge Gale E. Rasin had granted Mr. Lomax's motion to reopen his long-closed case. She then overturned his life prison term and resentenced him to time served. The Baltimore state's attorney's office did not oppose the motion to reopen or the decision to release Mr. Lomax.
Mr. Lomax was convicted of a convenience store robbery and killing that he could not have committed because his right arm was in a thick cast at the time. He was convicted based solely on the testimony of five white witnesses who identified him as the killer, though none said anything about a cast. As Judge Rasin acknolwedged at the Dec. 13 hearing, such cross-racial identification can be extremely unreliable.
During his 39 years in prison, Mr. Lomax educated himself, became a writer and editor of a prison newsletter, and amassed dozens of certiricates of achievement and letters of support, some from politicians. He was recommended for parole four times but kept behind bars by former Governor Parris N. Glendening's decision in 1995 not to parole any prisoners serving life sentences except those who were dying. Judge Rasin's decision allowed for Mr. Lomax's release, but it did not exonerate him, and he remains a convicted murderer. He will have to seek a pardon from the governor in order to clear his name and be eligible for compensation from the state.
Mr. Lomax's case was identified and investigated by Centurion Ministries, a New Jersey non-profit organziation that helps people it believes have been wrongly convicted. Mr. Lomax is the 40th person that Centurion has helped free. In Maryland, Mr. Lomax was represented by attorneys Larry Nathans and Booth Ripke. The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project congratulates everyone involved in this wonderful victory.
To read the Baltimore Sun article on Mr. Lomax's release, click here.