Earl Truvia and his co-defendant Greg Bright were convicted in 1975 of the second-degree murder of Eliot Porter in New Orleans' Calliope Housing Project and sentenced to life without parole. At the time, Mr. Truvia was 17 years-old and Mr. Bright was 20. Until they were arrested together, they hardly knew each other.
The convictions were based solely on the testimony of a single eyewitness who said she watched Mr. Truvia and Mr. Bright from her window go around the corner with a young boy and emerge without him.
Unbeknownst to the jury, the coroner had placed the time of the death significantly later than the time the eyewitness said she witnessed Mr. Truvia and Mr. Bright from her window.
The jury also failed to learn that the eyewitness was a paranoid schizophrenic suffering from auditory and visual hallucinations, medicating her mental illness with heroin, giving the police information in exchange for cash and testifying under a false name to conceal her own criminal history. Nor did the jury hear—thanks to the fact that the defendants' lawyers did no investigation—that there was in fact no line of sight from her window to the place she said she saw Mr. Truvia and Mr. Bright.
The jury was also not informed that the State had concealed the identity of persons they considered to be likely suspects—contained in a police report from the time--from Mr. Truvia and Mr. Bright for decades. In February 2002, Mr. Truvia and Mr. Bright presented all of this evidence to a court in Orleans Parish, including a mass of alibi witnesses that neither of their court-appointed lawyers ever bothered to contact.
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