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Federal appeals court ruling could mean freedom for Jimmy Dennis in Pennsylvania

Jimmy Dennis

After a quarter century behind bars, Jimmy Dennis is one step closer to freedom, now that an appellate court has affirmed his petition for habeas relief. The state of Pennsylvania now has 90 days to decide whether they want to put Dennis back on trial or set him free. Dennis’s supporters are hopeful that the State will move quickly to release Dennis in light of this week’s decisive ruling.

Dennis was convicted and sentenced to death in 1992 for the fatal shooting of 17-year-old high school student Chedell Ray Williams in North Philadelphia, in 1991. The shooting took place at a bus stop over an apparent theft of a pair of earrings. Dennis’s conviction was secured by questionable eyewitness testimony. Three eyewitnesses claiming to see Dennis, described a perpetrator that was 5’10” or taller, weighing between 170 and 190 pounds. Jimmy is 5’4″ and weighed 130 pounds at the time of the murder.

Evidence shows that Dennis was deprived of a fair trial, due to egregious misconduct by the prosecution. The prosecution committed multiple Brady violations by withholding evidence from the defense which was highly favorable to Dennis. The evidence included a receipt corroborating Dennis’s alibi, an inconsistent statement by the State’s key eyewitness, and documents suggesting that another person committed the murder. This suppressed evidence shatters the prosecution’s case against Dennis, leaving little doubt that the outcome of the trial would have gone much differently if the prosecution had acted in accordance of the law. Read more >>