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Raynard Jackson

Other Milwaukee Exonerations
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On March 25, 2003, 22-year-old Raynard Jackson and 23-year-old Morris Rash were arrested in Milwaukee, Wisconsin after police said they saw them drop handguns and marijuana as the officers approached them at the Guru Food Store. The store had been robbed a few weeks earlier and was known to be the scene of drug trafficking.

Both men were charged with carrying concealed weapons and obstructing police. Jackson and Rash claimed that the police planted the guns and drugs and that they ran because they had outstanding arrest warrants.

Jackson and Rash went to trial in Milwaukee County Circuit Court in February 2004. Officer Paul Lough testified that he and three other officers drove by the store in an unmarked police car and saw Jackson and Rash in the parking lot. As the officers approached, Jackson and Rash “made eye contact” and then “went inside the store very quickly.”

Lough testified that they drove around the block and then returned to the area near the store. They saw both men walking empty-handed, which suggested they had not purchased anything in the store.

Another officer, Ala Awadallah, testified that Jackson and Rash initially “ran into Guru Foods.” As the police car returned, both men were outside the store and fled. Lough said he chased and caught Jackson, but not before Jackson tossed away a handgun. Awadallah testified that he chased and arrested Rash, who dropped a handgun and marijuana as he fled.

On February 5, 2004, the jury convicted Jackson and Rash of possession of concealed weapons and obstructing police. Rash was also convicted of possession of marijuana. Jackson was sentenced to 5 years and 9 months in prison. Rash was sentenced to 4 to 6 years in prison.

In March 2005, the FBI arrested Awadallah after he tried to shake down a parolee for money and guns. The FBI said that Awadallah had threatened to plant drugs on the man and send him back to prison if he did not get money and guns for Awadallah. Awadallah pled guilty and was sentenced to six months in jail.

In 2006, while Jackson’s appeal of his conviction was pending, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals reversed the drug possession conviction of Walter Missouri in an unrelated case. The appeals court ruled that the trial court had erroneously barred Missouri’s defense attorney from presenting evidence of misconduct by Awadallah and other police officers, including Lough and two other officers who also were involved in the arrest of Rash and Jackson.

In 2007, Jackson hired a new attorney who filed a post-conviction motion for a new trial claiming that Jackson’s appellate attorney had provided inadequate legal defense by failing to raise the issue of the officers’ misconduct as outlined in the Missouri case as well as Awadallah’s conviction in federal court. That motion was denied without a hearing.

In October 2008, an attorney for Rash filed a post-conviction motion for a new trial based on similar claims of misconduct by the officers, including Awadallah.

In December 2008, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals reversed the denial of Jackson’s post-conviction motion for a new trial and ordered a hearing.

On February 4, 2009, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office agreed to Rash’s motion for a new trial. The charges against him were vacated, the prosecution dismissed the case and Rash was released.

At a hearing in July 2009, the trial judge granted Jackson’s motion for a new trial and vacated Jackson’s gun possession conviction. The charge of obstructing a police officer was not vacated. The judge ruled that the evidence “at least as it relates to Awadallah” created a reasonable probability that a jury would have acquitted Jackson.

On August 13, 2009, the prosecution dismissed the gun charge and Jackson was released.

Jackson later sought compensation from the Wisconsin Board of Claims, which denied his claim in 2016. He filed a federal lawsuit, but it was dismissed.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 1/12/2017
State:Wisconsin
County:Milwaukee
Most Serious Crime:Weapon Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:Misdemeanor
Reported Crime Date:2003
Convicted:2004
Exonerated:2009
Sentence:5 years and 9 months
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:22
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No