State of Conviction: Louisiana
Wrongful Conviction: Murder, Sexual assault
Exonerated Date: 2011
Years Served: 15
Damon Thibodeaux spent 15 years in solitary confinement, 23 hours a day, on death row for the 1996 murder and rape of 14-year-old cousin, Crystal Champagne. Damon admitted to the crime because of 36 hours with no sleep and a brutal nine-hour interrogation by police, telling them what they wanted to hear because of their threats to kill Damon by lethal injection if he didn’t confess, although he immediately recanted. As a result, he was convicted and sent to death row anyway, despite no physical evidence linking him to the crime and blatant contradictions between his “confession” and the facts of the crime scene. It was discovered that the victim had in fact not been raped, and the only DNA evidence left at the crime scene was not tied to Damon. Damon is the 300th person to be exonerated from prison because of DNA, and the 18th from death row.
Source: Witness to Innocence
Read more about Damon’s story here.