Innocence Project New Orleans: A Man Wrongly Imprisoned for 42 Years Is Forced to Trade the Truth for His Freedom | The Root

By October 17, 2019 No Comments

Elvis Brooks (holding papers, center), flanked by his brother Aaron Brooks, Innocence Project New Orleans attorney Charell Arnold (right) and investigator Jack Largess (left) after Elvis Brooks’ release from prison Oct. 16, 2019, after spending 42 years behind bars for a murder he says he didn’t commit Photo: Courtesy Innocence Project New Orleans

By Dara Sharif

A New Orleans man who has long maintained he was wrongly convicted of murder experienced freedom for the first time in 42 years after a virtual deal with the devil won him his liberty, if not true justice.

Elvis Brooks, now 62, walked out of Louisiana’s infamous Louisiana State Penitentiary, nicknamed “Angola,” on Wednesday after agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser offense in the case that sent him to prison almost a half-century ago.

Brooks’ attorney, Charell Arnold of Innocence Project New Orleans, tells The Root that after spending more than four decades—the whole of his adulthood—in prison, Brooks just wanted the fastest road home.

Despite having uncovered evidence that prosecutors withheld information that Brooks’ fingerprints didn’t match those found at the scene, as well as other irregularities, Arnold says fighting the state to win his case on the merits could have taken years.

“He is innocent and he has maintained his innocence all these years, but he decided this was best for him and his family at this time,” Arnold says of Brooks. “This was an incredibly difficult decision and one that was entirely up to him. […] Mr. Brooks is already 62 years old and has spent his entire adult life in prison. The opportunity to get out was paramount to him.”


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