S5E3: The Wrongful Convictions and Multiple Escapes of Leroy Harris: 30 Years in Prison and a Story You Have to Hear to Believe
From the moment he was charged with rape and robbery in 1989, Leroy Harris has insisted on his innocence. In May 1983, a New Haven, CT nightclub owner was robbed at gunpoint by three young men late one night. The men stole his car, and later that evening robbed and sexually assaulted two women. Leroy became one of the numerous suspects because he was misidentified. He was tried in April 1989, six years after the crimes were committed. Despite the fact that not a single eyewitness identified Leroy as being involved in the crimes prior to the trial, all four witnesses—the two assault victims, nightclub owner, and nightclub owner’s girlfriend—positively identified Leroy for the first time in court. He was convicted of three counts of robbery and one count of sexual assault in the first degree and sentenced to 80 years in prison. Even after his conviction, he fought the verdict through five appeals. Leroy finally got the Innocence Project of New York working on his case in 2012. The Innocence Project had the Connecticut forensic lab test new DNA evidence which excluded Leroy from the male DNA on the inside of one victim’s blouse. The sexual assault charge against Leroy was dismissed, but in order to be released, Leroy Harris agreed to enter “Alford” pleas to the remaining charges in exchange for his freedom. He spent almost 30 years in prison in Connecticut.
Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava For Good™ Podcasts in association with Signal Co. No1 and PRX.