Sentencing/Post Conviction

Woman who said she witnessed murder despite vision impairment recants; inmate spent 25 years in jail

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Lady Justice.

A judge in Portland, Maine, ordered an inmate released on bail last week after a woman whose testimony helped send him to jail for murder 25 years ago said police had pressured her to implicate him and she didn’t witness the crime.

Judge Joyce Wheeler set bail at $25,000 for 44-year-old Anthony Sanborn Jr. after the woman, Hope Cady, recanted, report the Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press Herald.

Cady said she was legally blind at the time of the 1989 slaying and wasn’t in the area where the murder took place. Cady said she testified against Sanborn after detectives shouted at her, called her names and threatened to send her to prison. “They basically told me what to say,” Cady said of the detectives.

At the time, Cady was 13 and partly living on the streets. She was a ward of the state, but neither her legal guardian nor an attorney was present during her questioning, Cady testified. Defense lawyers were not told about her vision impairment.

The victim was a 16-year-old girl, Jessica Briggs. Sanborn, who was a runaway at the time of the murder, had briefly dated Briggs in the weeks before her body was found.

The bail hearing is part of a bid to overturn Sanborn’s conviction. The detectives have denied Cady’s allegations.

Hat tip to The Watch at the Washington Post.

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