Three men, labeled the “Virginia Three” were convicted of the same murder in 1994—but they maintained their innocence and are now free.
Darryl Hunter, his brother Nathanial Pierce, and his friend Reginald Fletcher were all found guilty of the murder of 19-yer-old Steven Smith in 1994. The jury convicted the three men based largely on witness testimony. Many of those witnesses have since signed affidavits admitting that they lied. Last year, the parole board decided to release the three men. Hunter was the last to be released.
Hunter, Pierce, and Fletcher are on parole and are still convicted of murder. They’re seeking exoneration and have called upon civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented Trayvon Martin’s family.
“25 years ago on July 12, 1994, they did not get equal justice. They did not get due process,” Crump stated. “But now, we have the evidence—the unflappable evidence—that these individuals are actually innocent.”
A criminal record will hold the men back from finding employment and housing, and, under Virginia law, it prevents them from voting.
“While we’re relieved to be out of prison, life on the outside has not been great with these false charges against the three of us,” they said in a statement. “We struggle every single day to find productive ways to support ourselves and our families, but we are determined to fight every single day until the day we are exonerated and finally free from this horrific nightmare.”