A Milwaukee man convicted of murder has been granted a new trial thanks to the work of a team of UW Madison law students working for the Wisconsin Innocence Project.
Seneca Malone has spent four years in prison for the 2005 murder in Milwaukee of Ricardo Mora. Six students and two professors spent the last two years pounding the pavement, knocking on doors and making phone calls to build a case for granting Malone a new trial.
UW law professor Peter Moreno says the conviction hinged on the eyewitness testimony of one man who has since recanted his testimony and is now considered the prime suspect in the murder, "In this case we had an identification of Mr. Malone as the shooter by a person who claimed to be at the scene. He was in fact as we demonstrated in post- conviction hearing the alternate suspect."
Malone has proclaimed his innocence since the day he was charged and his case was on appeal when the Innocence Project students began gathering evidence to exonerate him. One of the key witnesses who was not called to testify in Malone's original trial was his girlfriend who claims Malone was with her at her home at the time of the murder.
Third year law student Scott Zehr says that's an example of how important it is for accused suspects to have a vigorous defense, "Some people may assume that people sometimes have almost too much rights after they're convicted. This is the type of case that shows why it's very important that defendants have the ability to try to challenge things especially when they have valid claims as to why something was unfair during trial."
Malone will remain in prison until the Milwaukee district attorney decides whether or not to try him again. If not re-tried, he will be released and eligible to apply for compensation from the state for his wrongful conviction.