Joan of Arc, nicknamed “The Maid of Orléans”, is a folk heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. She was born a peasant girl in what is now eastern France. Claiming divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years’ War. She was eventually captured and put on trial by the pro-English Bishop Pierre Cauchon for charges of “insubordination and heterodoxy”, and was burned at the stake for heresy when she was 19 years old. Twenty-five years after her execution, a court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr.
The case of Sally Clark was not the only one of its kind. There were several and one of the worse is Angela Cannings’ ordeal. After her sons’ deaths in 1991 and 1999 and serving her sentence for a year, the results of further investigation revealed that her family had a significant history of sudden death syndrome. In 2003 her conviction was overturned but her family was already split apart and a prison inmate continued harassing her.
Being falsely accused by your own daughter of raping her several times is probably a father’s worst nightmare. Because some of the evidence seemed so authentic, Thomas Kennedy was sentenced to 15 years in prison. After 9 years, Cassandra, his daughter owned up to falsely accusing her father and confessed that the physical evidences of rape were because she had sexual relations with a boy in second grade. The boy, already an adult by the time she revealed the truth, released a statement saying that what she said was indeed true.
Nora Wall is a former Irish nun of the Sisters of Mercy who was wrongfully convicted of rape in June 1999, and served four days of a life sentence in July 1999, before her conviction was quashed. Wall was the first woman in the history of the Irish State to be convicted of rape, the first person to receive a life sentence for rape and the only person in the history of the state to be convicted on repressed memory evidence.
Suspected as the main culprit in the bombing of the Olympic games in Atlanta, Richard Jewell was paid back for his vigilance in forwarding to the police a package which he thought was suspicious. A little while later, it blew up the venue and fingers pointed at him for killing one and injuring hundreds. Even though he wasn’t really convicted, the fact that his reputation was tarnished and he was “villainized” because of the whole ordeal was bad enough.
After the 2011 exoneration of her conviction of murdering her 2 year old son in 1993, Tammy Marquardt keeps her hopes up in finding her other 2 sons who were put up for adoption while she was imprisoned for 14 years. Her son was said to have died from an epileptic seizure rather than being murdered by her.
Yet another case of a DNA evidence swinging the proceedings in favor of the accused is the case of Lynn DeJac who was convicted of murdering her daughter. She was exonerated years later when the DNA analysis results pointed to her companion, Dennis Donohue who was before that also linked to a case separate from DeJac’s.
Although there was no evidence linking Darryl to the alleged rape he was being convicted of, a supposedly racist jury went ahead and convicted him anyway. He served 19 years starting in 1984 but thanks to DNA testing, he was cleared of the rape and is now fighting back by helping others in his postion.
The Mickelberg Brothers
The case that brothers, Ray, Peter and Brian Mickelberg were involved in was famously known as the Perth Mint swindle, a robbery of 49 gold bars weighing 68 kilograms that was valued at $2.02 million in 2011. And yes, like the others on the list, they didn’t do it. A movie and a book were produced and published to present the real story behind their infamous ordeal since the 2 surviving brothers are still fighting to win the case against the Western Australia Police for allegedly framing them.
Dewey is a former amateur boxer who is best known for being imprisoned for a conviction which was eventually overturned. Convicted in 1983 for the murder of an elderly woman, Bozella served 26 years in prison before his conviction was overturned in 2009. Lawyers discovered new evidence that had been suppressed by prosecutors showing Bozella was in fact innocent and had been framed.
Why would you admit a crime that you never committed? Gerry Conlon probably asked himself this question after the Irish Republican army bombing in 1974. Thankfully, he was exonerated when there was evidence which claimed that the police had tortured him to own up to a crime he never even knew anything about.
Arthur Allan Thomas
When law enforcement is corrupt…the people suffer. Arthur Allan Thomas learned this all too well when he was convicted of a double murder case in 1970 all because of a rifle cartridge case that was planted in the garden of the house where the murders took place. Although the police who planted the case are now dead, the authorities are still conducting a thorough review of the original investigation to get to the bottom of the incident.
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter fought professionally as a middleweight boxer from 1961 to 1966. In 1966, he was arrested and wrongly convicted for a triple homicide in the Lafayette Bar and Grill in Paterson, New Jersey. He and another man, John Artis, were tried and convicted twice for the murders, but after the second conviction was overturned in 1985, prosecutors chose not to try the case for a third time.
A 14 year old Canadian student was sentenced to death in 1959 for the murder of a classmate. He was supposed to be the youngest person ever placed on death row but a temporary reprieve was granted to postpone the execution and eventually was commuted to life imprisonment. Things turned around in his favor and almost 50 years later, Truscott was awarded $6.5 million in compensation after he was acquitted.
Dr. Samuel Holmes Sheppard
Being accused of beating to death his pregnant wife Marilyn Reese Sheppard landed him 10 years in the state penitentiary. He was then convicted of murder and earned a sentence of life imprisonment. Although he insisted that his wife was killed by a man with thick dark hair in a white shirt who attacked him as well, no one believed his story until in 1966 when his conviction was overturned in light of new evidence.
John P. Davies Jr.
As an expert in Chinese relations in China, John Paton Davies Jr. predicted that the Communists under Mao Zedong would win the Chinese Civil War. Because of this comment, his loyalty to the United States was questioned. Even though no one could substantiate the claims he was still asked to resign. Since he refused to resign he was fired. 10 years later, he was finally exonerated and eventually returned to the United States after having left with his family.
Mahmood Hussein Mattan
When you’re in the right place at the right time, either you’re given an incredible opportunity or a horrible twist of fate befalls you. Mahmood Hussein Mattan is a victim of the latter. After he arrived in Wales he was wrongfully accused of killing a woman. In spite of testimonies stating that he wasn’t the culprit, certain evidence was twisted and used to convict him, eventually leading to a death sentence. He was the last person hanged in Cardiff prison and the only convict who’s family was ever compensated after he was exonerated more than 40 years after his death.
General John D. Lavelle
Another case of wholehearted service to the country gone depressingly wrong is that of General John D Lavelle, who was stripped of his ranks because of allegations of misconduct over bombing missions in the Vietnam war. A little over 20 years after his death, President Obama nominated him posthumously back to the grade of general on the retired list. Information was released that General Lavelle was only following orders and that the misconduct was in fact higher up the chain of command.
Charles Butler McVay III
The commanding officer of the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (Ca – 35) was blamed for it’s 12 minute sinking with 300 of his men going down along with it. Before he was finally exonerated in 2001, he had already committed suicide in 1968. He is the only captain who was ever court-martialed for the sinking of a ship.
Thomas and Meeks Griffith
Who would’ve thought that an almost century old case would have had such a monumental ending? Thomas and Meeks were executed after their conviction in 1915. They were sentenced for the 1913 murder of Confederate veteran John Q. Lewis. There were others who were executed with them for the same reason. These wealthy brothers sold their property to pay for their defense against the allegations but in the end they were still executed.
Hawley Harvey Crippen
For murdering and dismembering his wife, Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen was executed in 1910. In 2007, with the help of genetic evidence, it was found that the body under the brick floor of the basement that was initially said to be of his wife’s was actually of a man’s. Even with this development, the authorities still will not hear the case to overturn his conviction.
Alfred Dreyfus was a French artillery officer of Jewish background whose trial and conviction in 1894 on charges of treason became one of the most tense political dramas in modern French and European history. Known today as the Dreyfus Affair, the incident eventually ended with Dreyfus’s complete exoneration.
Jean Calas, a French protestant became the symbol of religious intolerance in France. Catholicism was the state religion of France which did not legally recognize other preferences in faith. After one of Calas’s sons converted to Catholicism, another son died and authorities insisted that he murdered him for fear that the latter would follow his brother to convert, too. Although evidence pointed to the fact that his son committed suicide, Calas was still convicted and tortured for his son’s death. In the end, he was sentenced to death by wheel. His posthumous exoneration was realized with the help of Voltaire who was able to convince the king, Louis XV to overturn the previous judgement and Calas’s family was eventually paid as compensation.
The Salem Witch Trials
This series of prosecutions that led to the untimely deaths of those who were alleged to practice witchcraft in 1962 to 1963 shows how the power struggle of those who are in authority can affect the fate of the innocent lives around them.
In 2007 Sally Clark died of alcohol poisoning after not being able to recover from the horrors and false accusations of her conviction and imprisonment. Psychiatric issues like alcohol dependency syndrome stemmed from the alleged murders of her 2 sons, one in 1996 and the other in 1998. In January 2003 her convictions were all overturned stating the deaths were of natural causes and that evidence had been tampered with.