In 1968, 21-year-old Roland Gibson was wrongly convicted of first degree murder and received a life sentence for the murder of Charles Reinecke, Jr., a New Orleans taxi cab driver.
His conviction was based solely on false statements made by Lloyd West, a distant acquaintance of Mr. Gibson.
At the crime scene, the police lifted a fingerprint from a rear cab window and later determined it belonged to Mr. West who was already in police custody for an unrelated crime. Mr. West initially denied any knowledge of the incident and gave the police three false statements inculpating various other people.
One person who Mr. West named denied being with him at the time of the murder but told the police that Mr. West and an AWOL Army soldier named “Roland” spent the night prior to the crime at his home. The Police contacted the Army and confirmed that a soldier named Roland Gibson was reported AWOL from his company in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
In a later statement, Mr. West then told police he was involved in the murder but that Mr. Gibson was the shooter and that the gun was at Mr. Gibson's house under a mattress. Authorities searched Mr. Gibson’s entire house and did not find the murder weapon. Despite not finding a weapon, they arrested him.
Because Mr. Gibson was AWOL he was not forthcoming with his whereabouts the night of the murder. At Mr. Gibson’s criminal trial, Mr. West testified that although he participated in the murder, Mr. Gibson was the triggerman. Mr. Gibson presented his alibi—that he was with his wife and mother throughout the night of the crime. Nevertheless, Mr. Gibson was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Two days later, Mr. West pled guilty to first degree murder, was sentenced to life imprisonment, and remains incarcerated.
Mr. West later recanted his testimony, completely absolving Mr. Gibson of any involvement in the crime. Mr. West swore that he falsely accused Mr. Gibson to avoid receiving the death penalty. After this evidence came out, along with the fact that the District Attorney did not provide the defense with the supplemental police report which detailed the numerous conflicting stories and alibis Mr. West provided the police before he confessed and implicated Mr. Gibson in the murder, Mr. Gibson's attorney, Ernest Caufield, successfully argued for a new trial.
Without Mr. West’s testimony, the District Attorney entered a nolle prosequi as to Mr. Gibson’s
indictment on March 31, 1993 and Mr. Gibson was set free after 25 years in prison.
Mr. Gibson sued the City of New Orleans and was awarded $11 million but the decision was later reversed.
Mr. Gibson passed away on November 11, 2010 and is survived by his three sons.
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