Sixty-five-year-old Glenn Ford served 30 years on death row for murder but was released in March 2014 upon the State’s motion. The Caddo District Attorney asked that the man’s conviction and sentence be set-aside. The lead prosecutor who helped secure his conviction told the media “This case is another example of the arbitrariness of the death penalty. I now realize, all too painfully, that as a young 33-year-old prosecutor, I was not capable of making a decision that could have led to the killing of another human being.” He called the process “state-assisted revenge.”
Glenn Ford was released when the District Attorney presented new evidence about the actual gunman after an investigation in another homicide. Legal teams from the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana, law enforcement, and the District Attorney’s Office, worked together to uncover the facts. Ford was not present during commission of the crime.
Ford has always maintained he was innocent in the 1983 armed robbery and murder of Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport, Louisiana jewelry store owner. Three men were involved but Ford was the only defendant who was tried. Ford is a black man who was convicted by an all-white jury. The case went to trial in 1984.
Attorney A.M. “Marty” Stroud III of Shreveport, Louisiana, was the prosecutor in the 1984 murder trial. To his credit, he gave the Shreveport Times an interview (below) and said his failure was “that I didn’t follow up, that I should have done more, that I had an obligation to do more, that we as prosecutors represent the state … we are there to ensure the fairness of the process.”
Stroud questioned how anyone could give credit to a verdict where the lawyers, although good lawyers, had never tried a death penalty case or even a criminal case or a jury trial. He said “that in and of itself should have put a signal through my dense brain that it was wrong.” Ford was indigent and the judge appointed counsel to represent him.
The former prosecutor said that the atmosphere was to “win at every cost.” He said he “was caught up in that insanity” of win-loss percentages when he was in his early thirties. Stroud said “the ends justified the means and that we did not try people who were innocent and if anyone claimed they were innocent that was bogus.” He said that was the wrong philosophy and both sides should make sure there is a fair trial.
Making an analogy, Stroud said “the government is responsible for patching potholes, and they’re not very good at it.” He questions how the government can design a system that is “fair, impartial, and nonarbitrary.” Quoting United States Supreme Court Justice Blackmun in a dissenting opinion many years ago, he told the Shreveport Times “I don’t think a human being, we humans have the capacity, to tinker with the machinery of death.” On that basis, he believes the death penalty should be abolished. “Bottomline it is state-assisted revenge and that’s not justice.” While he believes the realities of politics in Louisiana are such that the death penalty will not be abolished soon, he believes that it eventually will but not in his lifetime. He believes the public needs to be made aware of the realities of this situation and the lives that can be destroyed.
Ford, who is suffering from late-stage cancer, sought reimbursement under a statute that provides for compensating individuals for wrongful conviction where they have served time and meet the statutory criteria. The Attorney General fought Ford’s recovering under the statute.
Stroud said that Ford “should be completely compensated to every extent possible because of the flaws of a system that effectively destroyed his life. The audacity of the state’s effort to deny Mr. Ford any compensation for the horrors he suffered in the name of Louisiana justice is appalling.” A judge recently held that Ford was not eligible for compensation because he knew about the crime but did nothing to stop it, and he tried to sell the murder weapon, and sold proceeds from the crime.
Kristen Wenstrom, of the Innocence Project in New Orleans, told the Shreveport Times “We are disappointed with the court’s decision today denying Glenn Ford compensation for the 30 years he spent on death row for a crime the state of Louisiana agrees he did not commit. In its denial, the court adopted the state’s argument opposing compensation. The ruling inflated the fact that Mr. Ford knew the people who committed the crime and insinuated that Mr. Ford was more involved in the crime than the facts in the record indicate. This is the latest in a series of great injustices that Mr. Ford has suffered over the last 30 years.”
The former prosecutor who helped send Ford to death row said he was not going to write a book, or go on any speaking tours. He just wanted to set the record straight. He said what he has been through should be shared with others.
This article has been updated.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served the state of Texas as a prosecutor and associate judge. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2