In September 1986, a man was shot and killed in a Philadelphia bar. No witnesses came forward until several months later when Officer Thomas Ryan referred Pamela Jenkins, a woman who had previously served as a paid informant to Ryan, to the officer investigating the murder. Jenkins claimed that while she was at the bar with a friend the night of the crime, she saw Raymond Carter with a gun and heard one shot.
The prosecution used Jenkins’s testimony at trial even though information gathered by other investigating officers contradicted her account: The victim had been shot three times; the bartender testified that she had not seen Jenkins the night of the crime; and Jenkins’s friend, who she claimed to be drinking with, said she and Jenkins were both home that night. In February 1988, Carter was convicted of first degree murder, criminal conspiracy, and possessing the instruments of a crime, and was sentenced to life in prison.
In 1996, after an investigation into police corruption, it came to light that Officer Ryan had paid Jenkins for her information and testimony. In September 1996, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas vacated Carter’s conviction and granted a new trial. The prosecution then dropped the charges in December 1996.
- Stephanie Denzel