In December 1967, a yellow cab driver was shot and killed in his taxi during an armed robbery in New Orleans. A fingerprint lifted from the rear window of the cab led police to Lloyd West and an acquaintance who said West and an AWOL soldier named Roland were together the night of the murder. Police confirmed that an Army soldier named Roland Gibson went AWOL two days before the murder. West eventually confessed to his involvement in the murder, but identified Gibson as the triggerman and testified against him at trial. Gibson was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury in 1968 and sentenced to life in prison.
After Gibson was convicted, West recanted his testimony. He signed an affidavit stating that he had lied at trial, falsely accusing Gibson in order to avoid the death penalty, and that Gibson was not involved in the murder. Gibson’s attorney filed a motion for a new trial based on West’s recantation as well as a supplemental police report that was withheld from the defense. Twenty-five years after Gibson was convicted, the court granted Gibson’s motion and the prosecution decided not to retry him. Charges were dismissed in March 1993.
- Stephanie Denzel