2017 Distinguished Kansans: KU law students’ work frees prisoner

Key to outcome was reinterviewing witnesses

In June, Richard Jones was released from a Kansas prison as a free man, thanks to the work of University of Kansas law students with the Project for Innocence, including Chad Neswick and Chapman Williams.

 

“It was a great feeling,” Williams said. “It was fantastic to find out he (Jones) was going to be freed.”

Jones was convicted of a 1999 robbery based on eyewitness testimony.

“The case was assigned to Chad and Chapman to start investigating, and they developed a relationship with Richard,” said Alice Craig, supervising attorney with the project.

 

 

The pair, beginning in fall 2015, met with Jones quite a bit. At first, they didn’t know where to go with the case, Williams said. But then they received a tip about another inmate who bore an uncanny resemblance to their client and began to put the pieces together.

“Then they went back to all the witnesses who had testified and got affidavits from each one of them indicating that those witnesses were no longer sure of their testimony,” Craig said. “Chad and Chapman were pretty integral in his case.”

Williams said it was great to be part of such a case and was excited that Jones gets to be with his family now.

He described the case as “a horrible miscarriage of justice.” Craig said the case illustrated how unreliable eyewitness testimony is as a form of evidence.

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