After 43 Years In Prison, US Woman Cleared Of Wrongful Murder Conviction

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A 63-year-old woman from Missouri, Sandra “Sandy” Hemme, has had her conviction overturned after spending 43 years in prison for a murder she did not commit.

According to The Guardian, Hemme was convicted in 1985 based on her incriminating statements made while she was a psychiatric patient.

Nonetheless, a judge has ruled that there is now “clear and convincing” evidence indicating her innocence.

Hemme, who is now 63 years old, was convicted and handed a life sentence for the 1980 murder of Patricia Jeschke, a library worker in St. Joseph, Missouri, after confessing to the crime while undergoing psychiatric treatment.

Initially, Hemme pleaded guilty to capital murder to escape the death penalty, but her conviction was later overturned on appeal.

At the time of the crime, Hemme, aged 20, was receiving treatment for auditory hallucinations, de-realization, and substance abuse.

Her lawyers highlighted her extensive history of inpatient psychiatric treatment, dating back to the age of 12.

Livingston County Circuit Judge, Ryan Horsman, ruled on Friday that “evidence directly” links the murder of Jeschke to a local police officer who later went to prison for another crime and has since died.

The judge stated that Hemme, who has spent the last 43 years behind bars, must be released within 30 days unless prosecutors opt to retry her.

The judge’s ruling came after a January hearing during which Hemme’s legal representatives presented evidence connecting the murder to Michael Holman, a former local police officer who has since deceased.

Her legal team, with the Innocence Project, argued that authorities ignored Hemme’s contradictory statements and failed to disclose evidence that would have helped her defense.

Her attorneys, in a statement, said, “We are grateful to the Court for acknowledging the grave injustice Ms Hemme has endured for more than four decades.

Hemme’s conviction was the longest-known wrongful conviction of a woman in US history.