---- Original Message -----
From: Taoss - Sherry Swiney
To: PATRICK Crusade
Cc: Probst, Neil ; American Patriot Friends Network ; Prison Action List ; Governor Riley
Sent: Sunday, November 02, 2003 12:05 AM
Subject: Wrongfully convicted man pardoned - Maryland
See for yourself - sometimes it happens that the innocent go free. But what a price to pay for incompetence!
Blessings to the governor of Maryland for taking the time to actually look.
Wrongfully Convicted Man Pardoned
Free After Serving 27 Years on Murder Charge
By TOM STUCKEY, AP
Michael Austin was released from the Maryland House of Correction.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Nov. 1) - Gov. Robert Ehrlich announced he will grant a pardon to a man who served 27 years in prison before his murder conviction was overturned almost two years ago.
Ehrlich said Friday that a lengthy review of the records of the trial convinced him that Michael Austin "served 27 years for a crime he did not commit." Austin had been convicted of the 1974 killing of a convenience store security guard.
"I talked to him today. I apologized to him, although words were very difficult to come by," the governor said.
Ehrlich also said he thinks Austin should get some compensation from the state for the years he spent in prison, but said he doesn't have a figure in mind.
"What's a year worth? What's a month worth? What's 27 years worth?" the governor asked.
The "full and complete" pardon given to Austin, Baltimore resident, will allow him to seek compensation from the state. The decision on whether to give him money and how much will be made by the Board of Public Works, which includes the governor, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and Treasurer Nancy Kopp.
Larry Nathans, the lawyer who represents Austin, said he and Austin talked to Ehrlich Friday morning.
"He felt very good about it. He was personally touched that the governor had spent so much time looking at the matter and that the governor personally called him," Nathans said.
Austin was convicted of killing Roy Kellam at an East Baltimore store.
His arrest was based on a mug-shot identification by a clerk at the market who told detectives at the scene that the shooter was a light-skinned black man, about 5-foot-8. Austin is 6-foot-5 and dark-skinned.
The only physical evidence against Austin was a wallet card that had scribbled on it the name of an alleged accomplice, a man who was later freed by police after they said they had the wrong man.
Austin's attorney failed to subpoena witnesses or a timecard from Austin's employer, which would have shown that he worked the day of the killing.
Judge John Carroll Byrnes, who overturned the conviction, said the defense attorney, who is now dead, was incompetent, the prosecution had committed errors and the trial judge have jurors faulty instructions.
11/01/03 01:22 EST
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press.