Photo courtesy of Olivia Grey Pritchard

Exonerated: June 24, 2003

Earl Truvia, along with his co-defendant Gregory Bright, was convicted in 1975 of the second-degree murder of Eliot Porter in the New Orleans’ Calliope Projects and sentenced to life without parole. At the time, Mr. Truvia was 17 years old. Until he and Mr. Bright 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 saw them.

Unbeknownst to the jury, 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. Because the defendants’ lawyers did no investigation, the jury also did not know that there was no line of sight from the witness’ window to the place she said she saw Mr. Truvia and Mr. Bright.

The State also concealed from the jury—and for decades after Mr. Truvia and Mr. Bright’s convictions—that there were two other likely suspects whose identities were contained in a police report from the time.

In 2002, IPNO presented all of the evidence in Mr. Truvia and Mr. Bright’s case to a court in Orleans Parish, including several alibi witnesses for each defendant that neither of their lawyers ever bothered to contact. The court overturned their convictions and was upheld by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

On June 24, 2003, after 27 years, 7 months and 10 days in prison for a crime they did not commit, Mr. Truvia and Mr. Bright were both released after the Orleans Parish DA dismissed all charges. They left prison with nothing but a $10 check each from the State and garbage bags full of legal paperwork.