Exoneree Detectives Fight for Those Still Behind Bars : NPR
But the group has gone beyond group therapy. They’ve formed their own detective agency, looking to crack the hardest innocence cases: The ones where there’s no DNA to test; ones that often rely solely on eyewitness identification.
Scott believes O’Steen is one of those innocents, and he aims to prove it. Inside the prison, the men sit across from O’Steen in a small barren room to discuss his case. O’Steen was convicted of armed robbery in 1997 and sentenced to 75 years in prison.
“The suspect was supposed to be 140 pounds, 6 feet tall. I was 240-plus. The suspect had a clean-shaven face … I had a moustache. There was two cars that fit the description. But my license plate number supposed to have been the closest one to the person,” O’Steen explains.
“We both been in that same chair you’re sitting in, with the same situation, so … we’re on your side until the end,” Lindsey says. “But I got one question to ask: Are you guilty?”
“No,” O’Steen answers.
Trying To Crack The Hardest Cases
The men know just how tough it will be to get O’Steen out without DNA evidence to test. It’s going to take a real shoe-leather investigation.
“If we able to crack this, and get it to where this man get exonerated, it will put us on a whole new level — whole new playing field,” Scott says.
Scott, 42, is handsome, with short hair, a goatee and a movie star smile. His teeth were rotted out from years in prison, but nothing $30,000 of reconstructive dental surgery couldn’t fix.
He may seem like an odd choice to put together a team of private investigators, but in the almost 13 years he spent working to get himself out of prison, he learned a lot about the law — and about perseverance.
“The struggle I went through to get out [of prison], I said, well, I gotta do something to try to make it better for the other individual[s] who are in prison right now,” he says.
Scott’s case, like most of the other exonerees, was based on mistaken eyewitness identification. It was 1997, and two men had robbed and shot a man in his own home. The cops thought Scott and his friend Claude Simmons fit the description given by the victim’s wife. They were convicted on her testimony.