Glenn Ford, 65, spent more than 29 years in prison af­ter a wrong­ful mur­der con­vic­tion.

The Washington Post Sunday - - METRO - BY MATT SCHUDEL matt.schudel@wash­post.com

Glenn Ford, who spent more than 29 years in a no­to­ri­ous Louisiana prison be­fore be­ing re­leased from death row af­ter a judge ruled that he had been wrong­fully con­victed of mur­der, died June 29 in New Or­leans. He was 65.

“His death was an­nounced by the In­no­cence Pro­ject New Or­leans, a le­gal ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion. The cause was lung can­cer, which was di­ag­nosed shortly af­ter Mr. Ford was re­leased from prison in March 2014.

Mr. Ford’s or­deal dated to Nov. 5, 1983, when Isadore Roze­man, a jeweler in Shreve­port, La., was found dead of a gun­shot wound in his small shop.

Three days later, Mr. Ford, who was 34 at the time, was charged with pos­ses­sion of stolen prop­erty, af­ter he al­legedly pawned items taken from Roze­man’s store.

Mr. Ford, who was born in Shreve­port, had spent most of his life in Cal­i­for­nia, where he had a history of drug prob­lems but no record of vi­o­lent crime. In­his early 30s, he moved back to Shreve­port, where he sup­ported him­self by do­ing odd jobs, in­clud­ing yard work for Roze­man.

In 1984, Mr. Ford and three other men were in­dicted for mur­der and con­spir­acy to com­mit armed rob­bery. Charges against one of the de­fen­dants were soon dis­missed.

Mr. Ford, an African Amer­i­can, went on trial be­fore an all-white jury in Shreve­port in Novem­ber 1984. His two court-ap­pointed at­tor­neys did not spe­cial­ize in crim­i­nal law and had never tried a case be­fore a jury.

The bulk of the ev­i­dence against Mr. Ford came from the girl­friend of another sus­pect in the case. There were no eye­wit­nesses and no mur­der weapon was found, but a lo­cal coro­ner tes­ti­fied that the fa­tal shot had been fired by some­one who was left-handed. Mr. Ford was left­handed.

On Dec. 5, 1984, Mr. Ford was con­victed of mur­der. Two months later, he was sen­tenced to death. Charges against the re­main­ing de­fen­dants, two broth­ers named Jake and Henry Robin­son, were dropped.

Mr. Ford en­tered the Louisiana State Pen­i­ten­tiary at An­gola, a prison widely known for its bru­tal con­di­tions. He was put in soli­tary con­fine­ment in an 8-by-10-foot cell.

Var­i­ous ap­peals were turned down un­til 2000, when the Louisiana Supreme Court or­dered that hear­ings be held on whether ev­i­dence had been sup­pressed and whether Mr. Ford had re­ceived in­ef­fec­tive coun­sel dur­ing his trial.

In 2007, the In­no­cence Pro­ject, a na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to free­ing wrong­fully con­victed pris­on­ers, filed a brief on Mr. Ford’s be­half. The or­ga­ni­za­tion’s lawyers charged that the tes­ti­mony in the case was “base­less and un­re­li­able,” that Mr. Ford’s at­tor­neys were in­com­pe­tent and that the ev­i­dence against Mr. Ford was cir­cum­stan­tial.

Nev­er­the­less, state courts ruled against Mr. Ford in 2009 and 2011.

In June 2012, the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice of Caddo Parish, where Shreve­port is lo­cated, filed new doc­u­ments in fed­eral court say­ing that new “ex­cul­pa­tory ev­i­dence” had been dis­cov­ered con­cern­ing the mur­der of Roze­man.

Dur­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an un­re­lated homi­cide, an in­for­mant told pros­e­cu­tors that one of the Robin­son broth­ers had shot Roze­man and that Mr. Ford had noth­ing to do with the killing. The iden­tity of the wit­ness re­mains sealed by a court or­der. The Robin­son broth­ers are be­hind bars for other crimes.

On March 11, 2014, Mr. Ford’s mur­der con­vic­tion was voided by a state judge. He was re­leased March 11, 2014, af­ter 29 years, three months and five days be­hind bars. Be­cause of wors­en­ing health, he had not been out­doors in seven years.

Mr. Ford was given a debit card — some­thing that did not ex­ist when he en­tered prison — with a $20 bal­ance. He also got to keep the money in his prison bank ac­count: 4 cents.

Asked if had any re­sent­ment, Mr. Ford said, “Yeah, ’cause I’ve been locked up al­most 30 years for some­thing I didn’t do.”

Ac­cord­ing to Louisiana law, peo­ple wrong­fully im­pris­oned are el­i­gi­ble for a max­i­mum com­pen­sa­tion of $250,000, plus up to $80,000for “loss of life op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

The of­fice of the Louisiana at­tor­ney gen­eral, Buddy Cald­well, filed a pe­ti­tion to deny any claim by Mr. Ford, ar­gu­ing that he was not “fac­tu­ally in­no­cent” of “any crime based upon the same set of facts.”

In March 2015, a state judge ruled that Mr. Ford was not el­i­gi­ble for com­pen­sa­tion, say­ing even if he was not guilty of mur­der, “he did not have clean hands.”

Less than two months af­ter Mr. Ford’s re­lease from prison, doc­tors dis­cov­ered that he had lung can­cer. He lived in a New Or­leans apart­ment pro­vided by a non­profit group and, in his fi­nal year of life, gave speeches about his ex­pe­ri­ences with the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

Glenn Ford was born Oct. 22, 1949, in Shreve­port and grew up in River­side, Calif. He had an 11thgrade ed­u­ca­tion.

He was never mar­ried, but his sur­vivors in­clude sev­eral chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.

At his death, Mr. Ford had two fed­eral law­suits pend­ing against po­lice and pros­e­cu­tors and was seek­ing puni­tive dam­ages for his years in prison. In a sep­a­rate law­suit, he sought re­dress for poor med­i­cal treat­ment.

In March, A.M. Stroud III, one of the pros­e­cu­tors who sent Mr. Ford to prison, wrote an ar­ti­cle for the Shreve­port Times, apol­o­giz­ing for his role in the case.

“Glenn Ford was an in­no­cent man,” he wrote, adding that the case was a prime ex­am­ple of why the death penalty should be abol­ished.

“Glenn Ford should be com­pletely com­pen­sated to ev­ery ex­tent pos­si­ble be­cause of the flaws of a sys­tem that ef­fec­tively de­stroyed his life,” Stroud wrote. “The au­dac­ity of the state’s ef­fort to deny Mr. Ford any com­pen­sa­tion for the hor­rors he suf­fered in the name of Louisiana jus­tice is ap­palling.”

Af­ter 32 years, the killing of Isadore Roze­man is now of­fi­cially un­solved.

“Glenn Ford should be com­pletely com­pen­sated to ev­ery ex­tent pos­si­ble be­cause of the flaws of a sys­tem that ef­fec­tively de­stroyed his life.”

A.M. Stroud III, pros­e­cu­tor who later apol­o­gized to Mr. Ford

HEN­RI­ETTA WILD­SMITH/SHREVE­PORT TIMES

When asked if he felt any re­sent­ment, Mr. Ford said, “Yeah, ’cause I’ve been locked up al­most 30 years for some­thing I didn’t do.”

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