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Kenny Collins taken off of death row in Maryland
Keep fighting for justice!

February 27, 2004 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,
On February 5, Somerset County Judge Daniel Long removed Maryland inmate Kenny Collins from death row because his original trial lawyer failed to represent him adequately during the sentencing phase of his 1988 trial. This dramatic reversal, in effect an admission that Kenny has spent that last 16 years under an illegal death sentence, is a blow to Maryland's death penalty system and a victory for activists and attorneys who have been fighting to prove Kenny's innocence.

Far from having a change of heart, the judge's hand was forced after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of Maryland death row inmate Kevin Wiggins. In both Wiggins' and Collins' cases, their trial attorneys failed to conduct an investigation, prepare arguments or call witnesses on their clients' behalf during the sentencing phase of trial.

In the past, Maryland courts have ignored such outrages if the trial attorneys claimed these failures were part of some deliberate strategy. However, in Wiggins' case, the U.S. Supreme Court pointed out that strategic legal decisions only occur when attorneys know the facts—not when they don't bother to investigate them.

The fight for justice in Kenny's case is far from over. Kenny has steadfastly maintained his innocence. Convicted without eyewitnesses, physical evidence or a confession, the case against Kenny rests on the testimony of the man originally arrested for the crime, Tony Michie, and his cousin, Andre Thorpe. Two years ago, in the aftermath of the successful effort to take Eugene Colvin-El off death row, Thorpe came forward to admit in a taped interview that he had lied at trial to protect his cousin.

Despite this dramatic new evidence, Judge Long denied Kenny's request for a new trial—and instead, after removing the death sentence, re-sentenced Kenny to life in prison. This is an outrage—an attempt to silence an innocent man. Kenny and his supporters have pledged to continue the fight for justice. Free Kenny Collins!
Mike Stark, Washington, D.C.

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