In September 1993, a man entered a convenience store in Louisville, Kentucky, shot the clerk and stole $32 from the cash register.
Police recovered a fingerprint from a bottle of beer that the shooter had been purchasing. One witness identified Edwin Chandler, already wanted on a jail-escape charge, as being near the scene of the crime. Another eyewitness tentatively identified Chandler as the shooter -- but Chandler’s fingerprint did not match the one on the bottle.
Police originally had a security tape from the store, but taped over the surveillance video before trial. Chandler was interrogated by police, and after being told that they had evidence tying him to the scene, and that his sister would be prosecuted for harboring a fugitive, and her children would be taken away, he confessed to the shooting.
Chandler recanted his confession at trial, and a third witness testified that he was not the shooter, but a jury convicted him of manslaughter and armed robbery in 1995 and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was paroled after serving nine years.
In 2004, the Kentucky Innocence Project took his case. In 2008, they persuaded the local cold case unit to take another look at the case, and they determined that the fingerprint on the beer bottle matched Percy Phillips, a man who had earlier been identified by one witness as the shooter.
In October 2009, Chandler’s conviction was set aside and the charges against him were dismissed.
In October 2012, the city of Louisville settled a lawsuit brought on Chandler's behalf for $8.5 million.
- Stephanie Denzel