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Brian Baldwin

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Date of birth
Date of death Jun 18, 1999
The details
Biography

Brian Baldwin (July 16, 1958 – June 18, 1999) was an African American who was executed in 1999 in Alabama, USA for the murder of a white woman. The only evidence against Baldwin was his own confession which he retracted saying it had been forced out of him by beatings and shocks from an electric cattle-prod by the local police. Death penalty opponents regard this case as wrongful execution of a man who did not commit the murder due to racial bias. In 1977, Naomi Rolon, aged 16, was driving on her way to visit her father in hospital in North Carolina. She was kidnapped, raped and killed on March 14, 1977. The police found her body and car beside a rural road in Monroe County, Alabama. Ed Horsley confessed to the murder after being arrested on unrelated charges and was executed in 1996. Horsley testified that he alone committed the murder. Baldwin had escaped with Horsley from a North Carolina youth prison camp on March 12, 1977. When arrested Baldwin claimed that the local police had beaten him and subjected him to shocks from an electric cattle-prod forcing him to admit to the murder of Rolon. He later retracted the confession (which had incorrect information about how Rolon died and the murder weapon). Nathaniel Mazdie, a black former Deputy sheriff later testified that he had seen Baldwin being beaten to extract his confession and that a cattle prod was present at the jail and three witnesses testified to seeing bruises on Baldwin's back and body after the interrogation. The jury was all white in an area that was 46% black. The judge refused funds for Baldwin's defence and his lawyer had no defence witnesses. Baldwin had no blood on his clothes (Horsley did), there were no Baldwin fingerprints on the murder weapon and the murder had been committed by a left-handed person whereas Baldwin was right handed (evidence not available at the trial). The trial and conviction were completed in 1 1/2 days. The main appeal was heard by Robert E. Lee Key the same judge that had convicted Baldwin although it is normally accepted in law that the same judge cannot preside over a hearing to appeal his own case. The case was taken to the Supreme Court with 33 senior judges and prosecutors signing a letter supporting Baldwin. The Supreme Court declined to reverse the decision. The Pope, former president Jimmy Carter, the Archbishop of Mobile, Alabama, 26 members of thee Congressional Black Caucus of the United States Congress and Martin Luther King's widow Coretta petitioned to prevent Baldwin's execution but were unsuccessful. All evidence of the case was lost or destroyed after the execution.

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