In March 1992, Beverly Monroe returned to her boyfriend’s home in Windsor, Virginia, and found him dead. Though his death was initially believed to be a suicide, a detective investigating the case suspected homicide, and had a theory that Monroe had murdered the victim out of jealousy for sleeping with other women.
The detective repeatedly questioned Monroe, suggesting that she had blocked the memory of the killing. After eight hours of interrogation, Monroe told the detective that she might have been at the victim’s home at the time of the death and blocked the memory. The detective met with her later and threatened that she would not be able to see her children if she was found guilty, and eventually convinced her to sign a statement that she had fallen asleep after dinner and was there when the death occurred. She was then arrested for the murder of her boyfriend.
At trial, prosecution experts testified that, based on the position in which the gun was found, the victim could not have shot himself. The prosecution also presented Monroe’s statement and a witness who claimed that Monroe had tried to buy a gun from her earlier that year. Despite the evidence presented by the defense that showed the death was a suicide, a jury convicted Monroe of first-degree murder and a weapons charge in November 1992. Monroe was sentenced to 22-years in prison.
With the assistance of her daughter, an attorney, Monroe later discovered that the prosecution had withheld evidence. The witness claiming that Monroe tried to buy a gun was given a deal in exchange for her testimony, and a groundskeeper told police he had moved the gun when he found the body. Medical documents ruling the death a suicide were also discovered, as were notes from the interrogation of Monroe supporting her contention that the detective manipulated her.
In April 2002, a United States District Court judge granted Monroe’s habeas corpus petition and overturned her conviction. Monroe was released pending the outcome of an appeal or retrial. After the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision, prosecutors announced in June 2003 that they would not retry her.