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Federal appeals court ruling could mean freedom for Jimmy Dennis in Pennsylvania

Jimmy Dennis

After a quarter century behind bars, Jimmy Dennis is one step closer to freedom, now that an appellate court has affirmed his petition for habeas relief. The state of Pennsylvania now has 90 days to decide whether they want to put Dennis back on trial or set him free. Dennis’s supporters are hopeful that the State will move quickly to release Dennis in light of this week’s decisive ruling.

Dennis was convicted and sentenced to death in 1992 for the fatal shooting of 17-year-old high school student Chedell Ray Williams in North Philadelphia, in 1991. The shooting took place at a bus stop over an apparent theft of a pair of earrings. Dennis’s conviction was secured by questionable eyewitness testimony. Three eyewitnesses claiming to see Dennis, described a perpetrator that was 5’10” or taller, weighing between 170 and 190 pounds. Jimmy is 5’4″ and weighed 130 pounds at the time of the murder.

Evidence shows that Dennis was deprived of a fair trial, due to egregious misconduct by the prosecution. The prosecution committed multiple Brady violations by withholding evidence from the defense which was highly favorable to Dennis. The evidence included a receipt corroborating Dennis’s alibi, an inconsistent statement by the State’s key eyewitness, and documents suggesting that another person committed the murder. This suppressed evidence shatters the prosecution’s case against Dennis, leaving little doubt that the outcome of the trial would have gone much differently if the prosecution had acted in accordance of the law.

There is no physical evidence linking Dennis to the crime. Dennis has steadfastly maintained his innocence from the beginning, and the current evidence clearly shows that he did not commit the crime.

Dennis’s case has gone through a bit of a roller coaster ride over the past several years. Federal District Judge Anita Brody overturned Dennis’s conviction in 2013. That 2013 ruling was then overturned by a three-judge panel from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in February of last year. That decision was then vacated in May of this year, which led to a new hearing before the full Third Circuit Court panel of 13 judges. The court ruled on the case this past Tuesday, returning a 9-4 decision in Dennis’s favor. The appellate court’s decision upholds Judge Anita Brody’s ruling from 2013, which had ordered that Dennis‘s conviction be overturned. Click here to read he Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

If you would like to keep up to date with the Jimmy Dennis case, you can visit the Justice for Dennis Facebook page for news and updates.

There are currently two websites detailing the case: JimmyDennis.org and JimmyDennis.net.

You can also listen to the Injustice Anywhere podcast detailing the Jimmy Dennis Case here.

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