In July 1988, a convenience store in Cleveland, Mississippi was robbed by three black men. The cashier on duty was shot twice, but survived. The day after the robbery, Keith Thompson told the police that he saw Jimmy Bass and Markius Thomas running away from the store. Two days later, Thompson’s sister, Anita, told the police that Bass had told her that he planned to rob the store. Two weeks after the robbery, the clerk identified Thomas in a lineup, but could not identify Bass. At trial, Keith Thompson testified against Bass. Anita Thompson began to testify that Bass had told her he planned the robbery, but she recanted her statement. Bass testified in his own defense, along with several witnesses who said he was home the night of the crime. In December 1988, a jury found Bass guilty of armed robbery and felony assault and he was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Bass later encountered Keith Thompson in prison, and Thompson told him that he had lied on the stand, and that Officer George Serio had paid him $250 to implicate Bass in the robbery. Bass filed a motion for post-conviction relief, attaching an affidavit from Thompson, but it was denied in 1997. The Innocence Project of New Orleans then took Bass’s case, and filed another motion for post-conviction relief. In June 2006, the trial court overturned Bass’s conviction, and ordered a new trial based on Thompson’s statement and new information about additional suspects for the crime. The state appealed, but in March 2009, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the decision. In March 2010, the state dismissed the charges against Bass.
- Stephanie Denzel