The Wisconsin Innocence Project, a program at the UW Law School’s Frank J. Remington Center, has filed a motion for a new trial based on powerful new evidence of a Michigan man’s innocence. Scott Baldwin was convicted in 2001 of first degree murder after investigators re-opened a 12 year-old investigation into the 1988 murder of Kalamazoo bicycle shop owner Earl O’Byrne. The main evidence against Baldwin was a statement from a jilted ex-girlfriend who failed a polygraph and was dismissed as not credible during the initial investigation. When Cold Case investigators re-opened the case 12 years later, the girlfriend’s statement grew from 3 pages to 42 pages, and her testimony led to Baldwin’s convictions. But Baldwin’s new attorneys believe that dramatic new evidence requires a new trial, or, at the very least, DNA testing that could conclusively prove whether Baldwin or an alternate suspect committed the crime.
The new evidence stems from anonymous tips recently released pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. While only one tip implicated Baldwin (the tip from his ex-girlfriend), numerous tips implicate a different man, who unlike Baldwin has a history of violent criminal behavior. Baldwin was denied access to the tips before trial, but since obtaining them in 2007 private investigators have been able to interview the daughter of the alternate suspect, who provided a dramatic taped statement in 2008. In the statement, she explains how her father confessed in shocking detail to breaking into the victim’s shop and robbing and murdering him. Several other new witnesses assert that the alternate suspect and his girlfriend confessed to them as well. Additionally, important Prosecution witnesses have provided new information further weakening the Prosecution’s case. Baldwin’s attorneys believe that the new evidence, combined with the lack of any physical evidence connecting Baldwin to the murder, requires a new trial, or at least DNA testing that could prove whether Baldwin or the alternate suspect committed the crime.
“Scott has maintained his innocence from the start, and now new evidence confirms that he’s been telling the truth all along, and that someone else committed the crime,” said Amanda Riek, one of the current Wisconsin Innocence Project students working on the case. “We are hopeful that the truth will finally come to light.”
The Wisconsin Innocence Project has freed 12 people since the project’s inception in 1998. Nationwide, hundreds of inmates have been freed by post-conviction DNA testing proving innocence; hundreds more have been freed by new non-DNA evidence.
Michigan investigators Bonnie Riley and Denise Posey discovered the new evidence of Baldwin’s innocence. Michigan State Journalism Professor Lori Anne Dickerson assisted in coordinating the investigation. Kalamazoo attorney Kathleen Brickley is serving as co-counsel with the Wisconsin Innocence Project. Numerous law students have worked on the case over the years, including Amanda Riek, Adam Finley, Claire Taylor, Yesha Sutaria, Dylan Buffum, Nicole Moody, Andrew Meehan, Andrew Twietmeyer and others.
Contact: Byron Lichstein