In late 1957, two men robbed Leo DeBailley of $160 in a tavern in Fort Wayne, Indiana. DeBailley identified Virgil Hogan as one of the two robbers. The other man was never identified.
Hogan, a 26-year-old father of two, denied any involvement. Hogan had a previous narcotics conviction, but the Indiana Supreme Court had recently reversed the conviction.
Hogan was tried for robbery in Allen County Circuit Court, with Judge William Schannen presiding. The jury found him guilty on January 7, 1958, based on DeBailley’s testimony and eyewitness identification. Schannen sentenced Hogan to 10 to 25 years in prison.
Hogan’s wife, Maxine, believed her husband was innocent and pleaded with the prosecutor’s office and police to continue investigating. When Maxine spotted a man on the street who looked remarkably like her husband, she contacted police again. Lieutenant Robert Groves and Detective Sergeant Richard Miller decided to re-open the case.
On July 19, 1962, after several visits to the Indiana State Reformatory at Pendleton to interview Hogan, Groves and Miller brought him to the Fort Wayne police station. They administered three polygraph examinations to Hogan and found him to be truthful when he said he was not involved in the crime. Police investigated and arrested the man Maxine spotted on the street.
Based on this new evidence, Assistant Prosecutor J. Byron Hayes filed a motion to reverse Hogan’s conviction and dismiss the charge against him on August 2, 1962. Circuit Judge W.O. Hughes granted the motion, calling the conviction a case of mistaken identity.
Although legislators introduced several bills to compensate Hogan, available records do not indicate whether any were enacted into law or any compensation was paid.
The National Registry of Exonerations is a project of the Newkirk Center for Science & Society at University of California Irvine, the University of Michigan Law School and Michigan State University College of Law. It was founded in 2012 in conjunction with the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. The Registry provides detailed information about every known exoneration in the United States since 1989—cases in which a person was wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all the charges based on new evidence of innocence. The Registry also maintains a more limited database of known exonerations prior to 1989.
We welcome new information from any source about exonerations already on our list and about cases not in the Registry that might be exonerations.