Mark Carver, conviction overturned after 8 years- Mark Carver was convicted on March 21, 2011 for the murder of UNC-Charlotte student Irina Yarmolenko and sentenced to life in prison. The victim’s body was found on an embankment of the Catawba River a hundred yards from the spot where Mr. Carver and his cousin, Neal Cassada, had been fishing. Although there was no clear evidence of guilt, both men were charged with Ms. Yarmolenko’s murder. Mr. Cassada died as a result of pre-existing heart problems the day before his trial.
Johnny Small, arrested at 15, exonerated 28 years later- On July 13, 1988, Pamela Dreher was shot and killed in the fish store she owned in Wilmington, North Carolina. At 5:38 p.m., Ms. Dreher was seen alive by her last known customer. The “no sale” button, used to open the cash register without having made a sale, was pushed at 5:46 p.m. and 5:49 p.m., which is likely when the cash register was opened by Ms. Dreher for the perpetrator or opened by the perpetrator, as it was found open and empty. Ms. Dreher’s purse and jewelry were left untouched.
Joseph Sledge Exonerated after 37 Years- In 1976, Joseph Sledge was 34 years old and in his third year of a four-year prison term at a minimum-security facility for larceny and receiving stolen goods convictions. All of Joseph's prior convictions were for non-violent, theft-related misdemeanors. On September 5, 1976, Joseph jumped the fence at the prison and headed to Fayetteville.
Willie Grimes: Free At Last- In 1987, an African-American male forced his way into the home of an elderly woman in Hickory, North Carolina. The intruder warned that he had a knife in his pocket and he would cut her if she did not cooperate. He proceeded to rape her twice before leaving out her back door. On his way out the door, he went through her fruit bowl and took a few pieces with him.
Larry Lamb: A Free Man- In the early morning hours of February 28, 1987, Mr. Leamon Grady was found dead in his Mount Olive, North Carolina residence from a single gunshot wound to the chest. No murder weapon was ever found.
Dwayne Dail Exonerated After 18 Years- 2007 - In 1989, 20 year-old Dwayne Dail was sentenced to two life sentences plus 18 years for the rape of a 12 year-old girl in Goldsboro, NC. The prosecution’s case relied heavily on two pieces of “evidence”: 1) the victim’s cross-racial identification of Dwayne as her rapist made six weeks after the rape and 2) a lab analyst’s testimony that hairs found at the crime scene were “microscopically consistent” with Dwayne’s.
Greg Taylor: In Pursuit of Justice- On September 26, 1991, Greg Taylor got his Nissan Pathfinder stuck in mud approximately 100 yards from a cul-de-sac where a young woman named Jacquetta Thomas was found brutally murdered early the next morning. In April 1993, despite the lack of any evidence linking Greg to the victim, Greg was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Ghost of the Innocent Man, a book about Willie Grimes’ Exoneration- Ghost of the Innocent Man, by Benjamin Rachlin, chronicles Willie Grimes' exoneration and the establishment of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission. It was just named one of Amazon's Best Books of August 2017.
Edward McInnis – 27 years served for a crime he did not commit- On February 23, 1988, a man broke into the home of an 81 year old woman in Laurinburg, North Carolina and raped her, stealing money from her purse before leaving through the back door. The woman was stabbed in the left shoulder by a letter opener and suffered abrasions to her face. She described the attack in detail to the police, but she had only seen the perpetrator briefly by the light of a pen light he carried. The perpetrator covered her head with a comforter before raping her.
Joseph Abbitt- In 1995, a Forsyth County jury convicted Joseph Abbitt of the 1991 first-degree rape, first-degree burglary, and first-degree kidnapping of two young sisters from Winston-Salem. His conviction was based on the eyewitness identification of the two victims, but the circumstances of the crimes against them called into question the reliability of the identification.