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George Slyter

Convicted of first-degree robbery in Hennepin County, Minnesota, on April 21, 1931, George B. Slyter was released four days later after the man who had actually committed the crime returned to rob the establishment a second time.
 
In the early morning hours on March 18, 1931, two men entered the Nelson Brothers Garage in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They ordered Aaron Oxendale, who was working the night shift, into a small anteroom and attempted to open the cash register. Failing, they brought Oxendale in at gunpoint and forced him to retrieve the money for them. The thieves secured fifty dollars and, without harming Oxendale, made a successful escape.
 
Several nights later, Oxendale saw a man who he believed to be one of the robbers walk past the garage. He alerted the police, and two officers were sent to watch for the man’s return. Later that night, George B. Slyter, the man Oxendale had identified as one of the robbers again walked past the garage. The police arrested him, and Oxendale confirmed his identification, noting in particular the dark circles under Slyter’s eyes as a telling characteristic of the bandit who had held him at gunpoint.
 
On April 7, 1931, Slyter was indicted by a Grand Jury and tried for robbery in the first degree in the District Court of Hennepin County. Slyter claimed to have been at a St. Patrick’s Day party at the time of the crime, but the details of the party presented by Slyter in his testimony differed from those presented by his alibi witnesses. Two other people who had attended the party, including Slyter’s sister, testified that Slyter had indeed been there, but gave conflicting information as to the other attendees and the events that occurred at the party. The positive identification from Oxendale and the conflicting testimony from the defense led the jury to reach a guilty verdict. Slyter was convicted of first-degree robbery on April 21, 1931. The sentencing was scheduled for April 25.
 
On the night of April 24, the same bandits from the previous month return to the Nelson Brothers Garage. Oxendale immediately recognized the man who held him at gunpoint in March as one of the robbers who was again pointing a gun at him. The bandit was wearing the same clothes as he had been wearing on the previous occasion and appeared to be holding the same gun. Most striking, however, were the dark circles under his eyes. Realizing that he had incorrectly identified Slyter as the gunman, Oxendale alerted the prosecuting attorney, Leo J. Gleason. Without informing the defense, Gleason arranged a motion to set Slyter’s guilty verdict aside.
 
The following day, Slyter was brought in front of Judge E. A. Montgomery for sentencing. Expecting to be sentenced to between ten and eighty years in prison, Slyter was surprised when Gleason requested that, in light of new developments, Slyter’s conviction be set aside and the charges against him dismissed. Judge Montgomery granted this motion, and Slyter left the court a free man on April 25, 1931.
 
— Researched by Sarah Kull
State:MN
County:Hennepin
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Reported Crime Date:1931
Convicted:1931
Exonerated:1921
Sentence:Not sentenced
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:29
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID