Exonerated: December 10, 2001
In 1997, Dwight Labran, a 24-year-old black man with no prior convictions, was convicted of first-degree murder in New Orleans. The only purported witness to the killing was the owner of the car in which the body was found.
Mr. Labran had an alibi: he was in a restaurant on the other side of town, eating dinner with family members. Nevertheless, on the basis of the testimony of the single eyewitness who mistakenly identified Dwight as the shooter, he was convicted and sentenced to life without parole after the jury could not agree as to whether he should receive the death penalty.
After IPNO became involved, our investigation revealed that the eyewitness in the case had lied about his identity. At the time of the killing, the witness had outstanding warrants for offenses involving firearms and cocaine. By giving a false name and fingering Mr. Labran as the killer, he not only avoided becoming a suspect, but also avoided arrest for his own outstanding warrants. None of this evidence was presented at trial.
Mr. Labran was released and exonerated on December 10, 2007. He was IPNO’s first exoneree.