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Judge Vacates Sentence For Baltimore Man Who Spent 30 Years In Prison For 1990 Murder

The crux of the case against Paul Madison came from a jailhouse informant's unsubstantiated testimony.

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6 Wrongful Convictions That Were Overturned
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6 Wrongful Convictions That Were Overturned

Recently, there have been 150 wrongful convictions overturned each year with that number growing. Source: Time Magazine.

A judge has vacated the sentence of a man who spent more than 30 years in prison after he was convicted of murder.

Paul Madison, 60, was convicted for the December 1990 murder of William Richardson, according to a press release from the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office. Madison’s release after three decades in prison will be the first overturned conviction since Maryland passed a law in 2019 that gave prosecutors the power to request a sentence be vacated.

Madison's conviction centered around the uncorroborated testimony of a jailhouse informant. In 2020, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby helped push for Maryland’s Jailhouse Informant Law, a law aimed at preventing wrongful convictions involving unreliable informants who are behind bars.

Officials said the informant in Madison's case was offered a deal: his testimony in exchange for the state dropping handgun and narcotic charges. 

“This conviction rested on outdated and questionable practices that called into question the integrity of the conviction, which is why, in the interests of fairness and justice, my Conviction Integrity Unit moved to vacate the conviction,” stated Mosby. “I want to apologize to Mr. Madison and his family on behalf of a flawed criminal justice system that failed him by wrongly taking 30 years of his life.”

Todd Kimmelman, deputy director of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, described Madison’s reaction to Oxygen.com in an email.

“Mr. Madison is thankful to be home for the first time in more than 30 years,” said Kimmelman. “It’s been a tough ordeal, but he never lost his faith that he would be exonerated.”

Paul Madison Mid Atlantic Innocence Project 2

Madison, along with co-defendant Clarence Colston, was accused of shooting and killing Richardson, 35, in the Cherry Hill neighborhood of Baltimore, according to The Baltimore Sun. Richardson died of a single gunshot wound to the head and was found dead outside his vehicle.

The jailhouse informant claimed they saw both Madison and Colston at the scene.

Madison was charged with second-degree murder and handgun charges. He was sentenced to 30 to 50 years in prison. 

According to the Sun, investigators later identified a tip that the informant might have been involved with Richardson’s death. 

Lauren Lipscomb, deputy state’s attorney for criminal intelligence, commented on the informant’s testimony.

“This would not make it through our present-day scrutiny,” she stated in the press release, citing a “lack of any other evidence” in the case.

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Melissa M. Phinn also took into consideration the information provided by an unidentified person who was incarcerated with Colston, according to the Sun. The informant claimed Colston described the murder but said Madison was not involved.

Colston has since died.

According to the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, prosecutors failed to notify Madison’s defense of potential suspects in the case.

Tuesday’s ruling marks the 12th release by the State’s Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit, according to the press release. In September, the office launched the “Faces of Innocence” campaign, an initiative aimed to inform the public of stories of wrongfully convicted people.

Todd Kimmelman told Oxygen.com that Paul Madison “hopes the criminal legal system will learn from the many failures that landed him in prison unjustly.”

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