A Baltimore man convicted of murder in 1992 was finally exonerated after evidence showed the two witnesses who testified against him were unreliable.
In 1991, two people claimed to have witnessed Anthony Hall chasing a man down an alley – a man who ended up shot and killed. The first witness, Nancy Hill, said she had been out walking with her five children on the night of the murder and that the victim of the crime, who has not been named, ran past her and knocked down one of her kids, according to the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project.
Nancy said that two men carrying weapons then ran past her, one of whom she identified as Anthony Hall even though the man’s face was obscured by a hoodie. She said she knew Hall from the neighborhood, which is how she was able to identify him.
The second eyewitness, Gerald Patterson, told police he had been driving by the scene of the crime when he heard gunshots and saw three men running across the street. One of the men, Patterson said, was carrying a weapon. He said Hall was that man.
Hall was convicted based solely on these two eyewitnesses, MAIP reported, but even the victim’s brother thought Hall was innocent.
MAIP obtained the police file decades after Hall had been convicted and learned that there were multiple eyewitnesses, including one who was adamant that Hall was not one of the perpetrators and two others who gave descriptions that did not match Hall. Additional undisclosed witnesses informed police of an alternative suspect whose description matched the one given by other witnesses and who had a motive to commit the crime.
It was also discovered that Patterson, one of the named eyewitnesses, initially told police that he arrived at the scene 10 to 15 minutes after the shooting had occurred. A passenger in his car had confirmed this timeline, but this information was never disclosed to Hall’s defense attorney.
After years of working on the case, MAIP was finally able to talk to witnesses, two of whom were in Patterson’s car the night he claimed to have seen Hall running across the street. They confirmed they had arrived sometime after the shooting and never saw any perpetrators. In 2022, Patterson admitted that he never saw the shooting and only gave Hall’s name because he had been arrested on drug charges and police were allegedly threatening him.
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In March, Patterson and the other witnesses who denied Hall was involved testified at a hearing for Hall’s petition for a writ of actual innocence. Hall had been on parole since 2017 but was still fighting to completely clear his name.
Prosecutors tried to argue that Hall hadn’t met the standard for actual innocence because Nancy Hill’s testimony hadn’t been challenged, but the judge rejected the argument and granted Hall’s petition.