30 years had to pass for Thomas Raynard James to have a chance of proving he was wrongfully convicted for first-degree murder. The Miami-Dade State Attorney´s Office is now reviewing the case of Thomas James.
It is argued that Miami police confused Thomas Raynard James for another man with the same name. He was convicted later in 1991 in spite of the lack of physical evidence and faulty witness testimony.
Veteran South Florida journalist Journalist Tristram Korten had been reviewing this case and concluded that based on the case´s depositions and trial transcripts, it was highly probable that James was wrongfully convicted and incarcerated.
Thirty years ago, detectives were told by witnesses that Thomas James was involved in a robbery and shooting in a Coconut Grove apartment. The investigation focused instead on Thomas Raynard James, which police found being held in jail on an unrelated gun charge.
Thomas Raynard James was taken into custody after some witnesses claimed that Thomas James and Vincent Cephus [“Dog”] broke into an elderly couple apartment, robbed and murdered a man, who tried to defend his family with a snub-nosed .38 caliber revolver but failed to do so, as he was shot on sight.
In the 1990´s case, only two of eight witnesses blamed Raynard James for the murder. One of those witnesses was a man who lived in the complex and had suffered a head injury that impaired his speech. He claimed that two suspects approached him and asked for a cigarette before heading toward the unit where the murder was committed. The other witness was a neighbor who just saw two men running down the alleyway.
Thomas Raynard James was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Korten, the veteran journalist, tracked down the Thomas James he believes detectives should have interviewed. Korten met Thomas James in federal prison, where he said he knew Raynard was innocent because he and his friends plotted the robbery and Raynard couldn´t have been involved. Although Thomas James was in prison at the time the crime was committed, he said he was willing to testify to his involvement.
Now, as the case is only in review, Thomas Raynard James remains imprisoned, but this can change if the courts hear his appeal and the State Attorney´s Office reopens his case.
If you are convicted of a crime you didn´t commit, having an experienced attorney on your side is crucial to modify the sentence or file an appeal or collateral attack to overturn the conviction. Russell Spatz has experience assisting clients through post-conviction procedures. Give him a call at (305) 442-0200 to schedule a consultation today.