Nigeria Newspapers

Court declares woman innocent of murder after spending 43 years behind the bars


Sandra Hemme

Published By: Paul Dada

A US court has freed a 63-year-old woman, Sandra Hemme after finding out she was not guilty of the crime of murder for which she has spent 43 years behind the bars.

A court had convicted Hemme in 1985 on the basis of incriminating statements she gave to the police against herself. But she was then a psychiatric patient. She was first detained four years earlier.

She was then convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a library worker, Patricia Jeschke, that happened in 1980 in St Joseph, Missouri. after Hemme made statements to the police incriminating herself while she was a psychiatric patient.

But Livingston County Circuit Judge Ryan Horsman has now found that a new evidence presented by Hemme’s legal team shows that Jeschke was killed by a local police officer, Michael Holman, who later went to prison for another crime and is now dead.

Her legal team contended that the prosecution shunned her contradictory statements being evidence that could have helped to exonerate her.

She had first pleaded guilty to capital murder to avoid the death penalty. But her conviction was overturned on appeal and she had to be retried in 1985.

Hemme who was 20 years old at the time her trial started was being treated for auditory hallucinations, de-realization, and drug use.

Judge Horsman ordered that Hemme be released within 30 if prosecutors had no intention to retry her.

Reacting to the order of the court, her lawyers said in a statement: “We are grateful to the Court for acknowledging the grave injustice Ms Hemme has endured for more than four decades.”