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Chad Humiston

Other Murder Exonerations Where a Co-Defendant Implicated the Exoneree
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On May 15, 2000, 27-year-old Anthony McCain was fatally shot in his car in Liberal, Kansas. Two passengers in the car were injured. Sixteen-year-old Ernest Bishop was shot in the leg, and 21-year-old Shawn Cox suffered a bruised leg when a bullet pierced his pants, but failed to penetrate the skin.

Later that night, police arrested 16-year-old Horace Bell, 17-year-old Keontis Hall, and 18-year-old Jonathan Baptista. They also recovered two handguns—one a semi-automatic .22-caliber pistol. Ballistics would later link the guns to the shooting. Baptista’s fingerprint was found on one of the guns and Bell’s fingerprint was found on the other.

Police also questioned 19-year-old Chad Humiston, from whose vehicle, an El Camino, the shots had been fired. Although Baptista and the others claimed they were at Baptista’s home watching television at the time of the shooting, Humiston said that they were involved and that the shooting stemmed from an earlier confrontation with Cox and Bishop. Humiston denied being in the El Camino and he was released.

Baptista eventually admitted that he and Bell fired the shots at McCain’s car. His admissions did not include any information about Humiston. However, three months later, after reaching a plea agreement with the prosecution, Baptista said Humiston planned the shooting.

Baptiste agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree attempted murder. He also agreed to testify for the prosecution, and said that Humiston had plotted the entire attack.

Humiston was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, two counts of second-degree attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and criminal damage to property.

Hall pled guilty to reduced charges of aiding and abetting a felon. Bell would later be convicted of murder and attempted murder in a separate trial and sentenced to life in prison.

Humiston went to trial in Seward County District Court in April 2001. Bishop testified for the prosecution that on the day of the shooting, he and Cox were walking to visit a friend when they saw an El Camino automobile occupied by Humiston, Baptista, and 17-year-old Ronald Madden—none of whom they knew. Bishop claimed Humiston and the others accused him and Cox making gang signs at them. An argument ensued, and Bishop offered to fight Baptista. Ultimately, Baptista and the others left after Baptista said, “We're going to go get some more homeboys, and we'll meet back here in 15 minutes.”

Bishop said that after they left, he and Cox continued walking to a friend’s home. After finding that the friend was not home, they happened upon McCain who offered them a ride.

Bishop said that as they drove along, the El Camino pulled up and shots were fired, shattering the driver’s side windows of McCain’s car. Bishop said he and Cox fled the car. McCain was fatally shot in the head and the abdomen. Cox did not testify as he died in unrelated circumstances after the shooting.

Baptista was the prosecution’s key witness. He testified that after the initial confrontation on the street, he went with Humiston and Madden to Baptista’s home. There, he said, Humiston concocted a plan to murder Bishop, Cox, and any witnesses. Baptista said the group at Baptista’s home—which now included Hall and Bell—left in two vehicles to look for Bishop and Cox.

Baptista said he, Hall, and Bell were in the El Camino and that they pulled up next to McCain’s car. Baptista and Bell fired several shots. Baptista said Humiston was in the other vehicle and had been following behind the El Camino, but the two cars were separated when Humiston’s vehicle had to stop for a traffic light.

Under questioning by the prosecution, Baptista testified that his plea bargain did not require him to testify against Humiston and that he was testifying because it was the right thing to do. Humiston’s attorneys did not challenge that testimony.

Police testified that the two guns used in the shooting had been recovered, and that ballistics tests linked them to bullets recovered from McCain’s body and the car. One gun had a fingerprint linked to Baptista and the other had a fingerprint linked to Horace Bell.

In contrast to Baptista's testimony, several others who had gathered at Baptista’s house testified that when Baptista, Madden, and Humiston returned from the initial confrontation with Cox and Bishop, Humiston never went inside the house. Madden, for example, testified that after arriving back at the house following the initial confrontation, he went inside to look for a friend who had his car keys. When he discovered that she was gone, he and another friend, Broderick Crawford, went outside where they joined Humiston and left in Crawford’s car.

Sergio Pineda, who was also at the house, testified that he didn't see Humiston enter the house that evening.

On May 4, 2001, the jury convicted Humiston of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted second-degree murder. He was acquitted of the conspiracy to commit murder and criminal damage to property charges. He was sentenced to 16 years and 11 months in prison.

In July 2004, the Court of Appeals of Kansas vacated Humiston’s convictions and ordered a new trial based on Baptista’s testimony that his plea bargain did not require him to testify against Humiston. “This was false,” the court said. “He left he jury with the impression that his testimony at Humiston’s trial was purely voluntary.”

The prosecution conceded on appeal that Baptista’s testimony was false and that the prosecutor “knew or should have known that Baptista was testifying falsely,” but instead argued that even without Baptista’s testimony there was sufficient evidence to convict Humiston.

The appeals court disagreed, noting that Baptista testified that Humiston initiated and concocted the plan to retaliate. “No other person testified to any such meeting,” the appeals court said.

In October 2004, Humiston went to trial a second time in Seward County District Court. However, on the second day of trial, Seward County District Judge Tom Smith dismissed the charges when Baptista refused to testify. Humiston was immediately released from prison.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 11/6/2017
State:Kansas
County:Seward
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Attempted Murder
Reported Crime Date:2000
Convicted:2001
Exonerated:2004
Sentence:16 years and 11 months
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:19
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No