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Theodis Hagans

Other Attempted Murder Exonerations Where No Crime was Committed
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On March 5, 1998, 29-year-old Aric Sinclair, a police officer in Jacksonville, Florida, accused 22-year-old Theodis Hagans of shooting at him when he sought to question Hagans about an unsolved murder.

Hagans was arrested in April 1998 and charged with attempted murder of a police officer. Hagans claimed he acted in self-defense after Sinclair fired a gun at him because Hagans stopped selling narcotics for Sinclair.

Hagans went to trial in Duval County Circuit Court in January 1999. Sinclair testified that he was searching for Hagans to question him about a murder case, but that Hagans saw him and fired a gun at him. Sinclair said he fired back and Hagans fled.

After a two-day trial, Hagans was convicted of attempted murder of a police officer and sentenced to life in prison.

In December 2000, Sinclair and two other Jacksonville police officers were among five men indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of murdering a Jacksonville area businessman, and committing robberies and abductions of drug dealers from 1997 to 1999. Another Jacksonville officer, Karl Waldron, had already been convicted of the murder of the businessman.

Sinclair’s indictment prompted the Duval County District Attorney’s office to re-examine the case against Hagans because he was convicted on the basis of Sinclair’s testimony.

Six months later, the prosecution requested that Hagans’s conviction be vacated.

The prosecution concluded that on the day of the shooting, Sinclair was not acting as a police officer but as an enraged drug dealer. Hagans told the prosecution that he had sold crack cocaine for Sinclair and decided to branch out on his own. Sinclair became angry and threatened Hagans. Sinclair then shot at him, and Hagans shot back in self-defense.

On June 21, 2001, Duval County Circuit Judge Lance Day set aside Hagans’s conviction and granted a new trial after deputy district attorney Angela Corey said she had developed new evidence that Sinclair lied when he said he was chasing Hagans to question him about a murder.

In granting the new trial, Judge Day said, “Under our constitution, the scales of justice are balanced in favor of the accused's presumption of innocence. No accused should stand convicted where this presumption has been compromised by what is now reasonably perceived as tainted and perjured testimony.”

After the new trial was granted, Corey dismissed the charge. Hagans remained in prison to serve the remainder of an eight-year prison term imposed after he was convicted of assaulting a courtroom deputy when he was found guilty of the attempted murder of Sinclair.

Hagans later filed a federal lawsuit against Jacksonville and Sinclair. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount in 2004. In 2008, Hagans was convicted of illegal possession of a firearm and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 5/3/2017
State:Florida
County:Duval
Most Serious Crime:Attempted Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1998
Convicted:1999
Exonerated:2001
Sentence:Life
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