CRIME

Glenn Ford, Wrongfully Convicted And Dying Of Cancer, Denied Restitution For 30 Years On Death Row

03/30/2015 07:50 pm ET | Updated Apr 03, 2015
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Glenn Ford was imprisoned nearly half his life for a murder he didn't commit. Now, the 65-year-old has been denied restitution for his nearly 30 years on Louisiana's death row.

Caddo Parish District Judge Katherine Dorroh on Friday denied Ford compensation, saying that while Ford did not commit the murder that led to his wrongful imprisonment, he was "proven to be guilty of lesser crimes and was not an innocent man." The judge said Ford knew about plans for the robbery that led to the killing and didn't stop it. Further, he attempted to destroy evidence by pawning items taken in the robbery and tried to find buyers for the murder weapon used by men Ford implicated in the murder.

"While Mr. Ford does not have the blood of Isadore Rozeman on his hands, he did not have clean hands," Dorroh wrote in her nine-page order.

Ford's attorney, Gary Clements, said the court's conclusion is akin to denying compensation for "jaywalking in front of the house where a crime happened."

"Truth is, if you pawned jewelry, you would never spend 30 years on death row," Clements told The Huffington Post Monday.

Ford's lawyers with the Innocence Project-New Orleans (unaffiliated with the national Innocence Project) are appealing the ruling. The lawyers said in a statement Friday:

We are disappointed with the court’s decision today denying Glenn Ford compensation for the 30 years he spent on death row for a crime the State of Louisiana agrees he did not commit. In its denial, the court adopted the State’s argument opposing compensation. The ruling inflated the fact that Mr. Ford knew the people who committed the crime and insinuated that Mr. Ford was more involved in the crime than the facts in the record indicate. This is the latest in a series of great injustices that Mr. Ford has suffered over the last 30 years.

Ford was convicted in 1984 of murdering Rozeman, a 56-year-old Shreveport jeweler and watchmaker. After "credible evidence" surfaced corroborating Ford's story that he was not part of Rozeman's murder, Caddo County prosecutors asked that Ford's conviction be vacated and he walked free in March 2014.

“He literally has nothing," Wenstrom told The Huffington Post Monday, noting that supporters are trying to raise funds for his medical costs. "Money right now is going to hospice care.”

Under Louisiana law, a person is eligible for up to $25,000 a year for each year he was wrongfully incarcerated, with a lifetime cap of $250,000, Wenstrom explained. In Ford's case, he would only receive restitution for a third of the time he spent on death row if his appeal succeeds.

Last week, former prosecutor A.M. Stroud III published an emotional open letter apologizing to Ford for the role he played in the wrongful incarceration, He said Ford "deserves every penny owed to him under the compensation statute.

Stroud acknowledged the state's cap on restitution during a Friday interview with The Huffington Post.

“That's pretty bad. For example, Mr. Ford was in a 12-by-12 cell for 30 years." Stroud said of the $250,000 maximum. "You do the math and it's not much.”

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