In June 1991, Ron Leverett wandered onto the scene of a drug bust in his Hart County, Georgia neighborhood. In the course of the bust, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations videotaped their undercover agents completing drug buys. Local police were asked to identify the dealers on the grainy tapes. A local officer identified a dealer who called himself “Calloway” as Ron Leverett, who had no prior drug history. In fact, “Calloway” was a name used by Tom Clark, a local dealer who resembled Leverett. At his September 1993 trial, Leverett’s attorney failed to pursue Clark as a possible suspect or present his picture to the jury. Leverett was convicted on the basis of the officer’s testimony and the videotape after the judge refused the jury’s request to view the tape a second time. He received a 3-year sentence.
Following his conviction, Leverett’s new attorney sent the videotape to NASA for image enhancement, and located an expert who testified at a hearing that it wasn’t Leverett on the tape. In addition, Clark had confessed to a Hart County police investigator that he was the one on the tape. After Leverett’s appeals failed, he requested a pardon from the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole. His request was granted, and he was pardoned on the basis of innocence in May 1994.
- Stephanie Denzel