Ned Flanders wrote:They were both found guilty by a jury of their peers and were punished in accordance with the law.
Ned, what you're ignoring here is that, in our justice system, it is extremely difficult to reverse a finding by a jury, even if
evidence comes to light after a trial that the evidence presented to a jury was tainted. That's what happened in this case. That's what happened in many cases.
Just as Americans know little about who is executed and why, they are unaware of the potential dangers of executing an innocent man. Our ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ burden of proof in criminal cases is intended to protect the innocent, but we know it is not foolproof. Various studies have shown that people whose innocence is later convincingly established are convicted and sentenced to death.
Proving one's innocence after a jury finding of guilt is almost impossible. While reviewing courts are willing to entertain all kinds of collateral attacks where a sentence of death is involved, they very rarely dispute the jury's interpretation of the evidence. This is, perhaps, as it should be. But, if an innocent man has been found guilty, he must then depend on the good faith of the prosecutor's office to help him establish his innocence. There is evidence, however, that prosecutors do not welcome the idea of having convictions, which they labored hard to secure, overturned, and that their cooperation is highly unlikely.
No matter how careful courts are, the possibility of perjured testimony, mistaken honest testimony, and human error remain all too real. We have no way of judging how many innocent persons have been executed but we can be certain that there were some. Whether there were many is an open question made difficult by the loss of those who were most knowledgeable about the crime for which they were convicted. Surely there will be more as long as capital punishment remains part of our penal law.
Justice Thurgood Marshall, Furman v. Georgia
(bolded by me).