a murder, 7 convictions and many question marks
Washington, D. C. C.
A street vendor found a small woman dead on the floor of the garage.
She was Catherine Fuller, the mother of six, who ran away from home and never came back.
She was beaten, sexually assaulted and killed on a busy public street.
The murder shocked and frightened the city.
Over the next few months, police arrested 17 people in connection with the crime.
Now, by mid-term review
The Atlantic acquittal project has exposed doubts about police investigations.
And raised the question of whether the convicted young people were really involved in the attack.
In Washington, the brutal attack hit the nerves. C.
Reports of the case are broadcast daily in the newspaper and every night on the evening news, with reporter Gary Reers covering one story after another on the evening news.
Four suspects, including 19. year-
Old Christopher Turner got up from the bed and was taken away in handcuffs, \"said Reers.
By then, Chris Turner had graduated from high school and had a job coaching local children.
He\'s trying to get out of trouble-
He has grown up.
Fuller\'s case took him away. to prison —
More than a quarter-century.
He was released on parole a few months ago.
NPR met him in the old neighborhood, in the same alley where police found Fuller\'s body.
\"This is actually my first time back here in 26 years,\" Turner said . \".
\"For me, they believe me, you know, it\'s still confusing to be able to do something like this to another person.
\"The prosecutor said this: On a rainy October afternoon, a group of children strolled around the bus stop during peak hours.
Witnesses recalled that the boys were singing D. C.
Musician Chuck Brown
A dollar bill is a friend of mine.
A five-cent coin.
This is Love Boat time.
I need some money.
I need some money.
Then, some children found Fuller walking in the rain with curlers on his hair.
The two guys are said to have attacked her in two groups.
When she stopped struggling, one of them hit her with a pipe.
No one denies that this is a terrible scene.
Authorities say the murder was carried out by a dangerous gang.
The Fuller killing touched the nerves.
This makes people worry about the new dangers that are taking place in the city.
Prosecutors argue that dozens of people may be standing in the alley watching Fuller\'s suffering.
Turner\'s lawyer is not sure.
Barry Polak said: \"We do know that street vendors have been there along the street and they have not reported seeing any crowds in the alley, \"A defense lawyer who has the experience of helping people who have been wrongly convicted.
Now he is trying to clarify Turner\'s name, get a judge to overturn the conviction and order a new trial.
Turner had no criminal record before, and he kept his innocence.
In fact, he saidS.
The bailiffs who provide security for the trial also think so.
\"Finally, when the jury reviewed, they were actually preparing my paperwork,\" Turner recalled . \".
\"They were pretty sure I would really be acquitted because they were preparing my paperwork and I thought I would walk.
\"On the day of the murder, two boys near the alley pleaded guilty and testified at trial.
After more than 60 votes, the jurors finally found Turner guilty.
The Justice Department said it had confidence in all the convictions of Fuller\'s murder, given her serious physical injury and the witnesses to the attack.
Another suspect appeared, but Polak said there were many reasons to be skeptical about the government\'s case.
There was never any physical evidence that the accused was involved in the crime scene.
Two persons who pleaded guilty and testified at trial received shorter sentences in exchange for their cooperation with the government.
Two other witnesses in the community submitted sworn testimony, reversing their testimony.
Then, the bigger complaint is that the prosecutor allegedly never handed over the testimony of several witnesses that would have left another suspect near the alley that day.
His name is James MacMillan.
He was jailed for crimes committed against women within weeks of a more comprehensive attack.
\"The government has never disclosed to the defense that they have three witnesses who saw Macmillan leave the crime scene when the body was found,\" said polllack . \".
Authorities say it is not clear from the records that still exist whether Macmillan has been questioned in a fuller case.
But Pollack, he and Mid-
Macmillan thinks Macmillan is likely to be involved in the murder.
Macmillan lives just a few steps from the same alley where Fuller\'s body was found.
A few years later, he was convicted of attacking and killing a woman in another special zone. C. alley. He acted alone.
Retired D. Jim TrainumC.
Police detectives, who now run the consulting business, say he can\'t forget Macmillan.
\"I interviewed him and in my interview he was one of the few people who really scared me,\" Trainum said . \".
He said Macmillan became a suspect in a burglary case that year.
\"He\'s a boxer and if he wants he might run into that table and cause me all sorts of damage and I can\'t stop him,\" said Trainum . \".
Macmillan served a life sentence in Kentucky.
He did not reply to NPR\'s letter.
And he was never accused of any misconduct in the Fuller case.
Take a break in the case?
I wouldn\'t speak on the tape either, because a more comprehensive murder is, to a large extent, an outstanding issue.
A judge in the city has asked to hear testimony from government witnesses this fall, who have withdrawn-
Changed their story.
Including those who pleaded guilty and testified at trial years ago.
The judge also wanted to hear from retired prosecutors and police investigators.
Then, at the end of last year, things may be different: D. C.
Officials are preparing to close an old warehouse full of evidence.
Trainum found three boxes filled with material from Fuller\'s murder. What\'s inside?
\"They analyze what this case really needs,\" Trainum said . \".
Semen was found on the victim\'s clothes.
Hair and fibers removed from the victim.
These things can be compared to those charged and who are currently in prison.
They can also compare with other suspects.
\"The judge ordered a DNA test of all these materials, including a new test to find the skin cells left behind when the victim\'s clothes were caught.
But prosecutors say even if they found someone else\'s DNA on Fuller\'s clothes, that doesn\'t mean Turner didn\'t do that.
In court papers, the prosecutor said that a police officer observed Turner in a cell shortly after his arrest and told one of his friends, there will be no physical evidence linking them to the crime because they have never been in contact with Fuller.
Turner\'s lawyer said he had questions about whether that conversation really happened, and even if it did, he refuted the evidence that he was innocent, not guilty.
Brandon Teton garlitt, a law professor at the University of Virginia, will not forget the past, and he is studying the wrong conviction.
He recently published a book on the subject that convicted innocent people: where criminal prosecution went wrong.
\"We know that witnesses can now make serious mistakes, we know that people can plead guilty in error, and we know that people can plead guilty when they are innocent,\" garlitte said . \".
The law professor added that in several well-known cases, multiple defendants were convicted of rape and violent attacks --
Including the Central Park jogger attack and the six-case of green silk, NE.
It ended in a very different way in a few years.
It turns out that in these cases there is only one person for each crime.
Turner said he knew that the trials of those years ago were still in the minds of many people.
\"Guys, the people on the bus the other day stopped me and screamed on the bus, \'I saw you on TV and it messed up what they did to you guys, man
You know, people I haven\'t seen in 26 years, they recognize me.
\"But Turner knew he wouldn\'t change the past easily, and he found a new job at the National Baseball Stadium in Washington, where he recently won an award.
Only 2% of people like him have won a new test.
\"Even if I was acquitted, I was still one of those people who was convicted of more full murder,\" he said . \".
Turner said he will carry it with him for the rest of his life.