On October 28, 1988, Alonzo Fitzpatrick Parker was found shot to death on a street in Montgomery, Alabama.
Police persuaded 24-year-old Melvin Beamon–who had been seen with the victim earlier in the day–to come down to the station by telling him that they wanted to talk about a friend who was in trouble.
Beamon was then interrogated for 17 hours during which he was beaten, threatened, and denied access to an attorney and a phone call. He was charged with Parker’s murder.
Beamon went on trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court in August 1989. Several prosecution witnesses testified that they saw Beamon shoot the victim. On August 31, 1989, a jury convicted Beamon of murder. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Immediately after the conviction, the eyewitnesses recanted their testimony and said that the police had threatened them and forced them to testify falsely. In addition, several other witnesses came forward and identified another man as the gunman.
The prosecution re-investigated the case and joined in the defense motion to vacate the conviction. On October 10, 1989, the conviction was vacated and Beamon was released on bond. In July 1990, the prosecution dismissed the charges.
– Maurice Possley