Advocacy Update: Pennsylvania Innocence Project Wins Immediate Release for Wrongfully Convicted Philadelphia Man

The Pennsylvania Innocence Project at Temple University Beasley School of Law has issued the following statement on the Superior Court’s decision to order the immediate release of Donte Rollins, a North Philadelphia man wrongfully convicted in 2007.

Donte Rollins – Home for the Holidays

Superior Court Calls Trial Court’s Refusal to Act “Befuddling and Unacceptable”

PHILADELPHIA, PA (December 20, 2016): Over 33 weeks after Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams called for Donte Rollins’ convictions to be vacated, he is finally going home. Mr. Rollins has been incarcerated since 2007 for a shooting overwhelming evidence shows he did not commit. Last April 29, the District Attorney agreed Mr. Rollins’ conviction cannot stand because although multiple witnesses, videotapes, receipts, and cell phone records establish Mr. Rollins was several miles away from the shooting, the jury heard and saw virtually none of that evidence. Yet, astoundingly, Judge Rayford Means refused the District Attorney’s request and continued to keep Mr. Rollins imprisoned for an additional 6 months, only to affirm his conviction without explanation or reason. It took the Pennsylvania Superior Court—acting on an agreed-upon motion—to bring justice to Mr. Rollins and set him free.

 The Superior Court was so concerned by Judge Means’ “egregious” behavior the judges ordered Mr. Rollins to be released no later than 12:00 PM Wednesday, December 21.

“Mr. Rollins is an innocent man, imprisoned for over 10 years for a crime he did not commit. That he spent even a single day in prison – much less 10 years – is a travesty,” says attorney Michael Wiseman.

The Pennsylvania Innocence Project also represents Mr. Rollins. “We are grateful for the support and actions by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. As the Superior Court noted, there was ‘extensive and cooperative joint review’ before they agreed Mr. Rollins should receive a new trial,” said Pennsylvania Innocence Project Legal Director Marissa Bluestine. “Yet, astonishingly, despite the consensus, the trial court denied the petition. Luckily, the Superior Court recognized the injustice and – again with the agreement of the District Attorney – summarily reversed the trial court and vacated Mr. Rollins’ conviction. We are thrilled he will spend the holidays with his loving family.”