|In February 1998, a masked man robbed a convenience store in Sanford, North Carolina.
The two clerks told police that the man sounded like a frequent customer, 35-year-old Steven Snipes, trying to disguise his voice, and that the robber wore clothes similar to those Snipes sometimes wore.
Snipes was arrested 15 minutes after the robbery and although his clothes didn’t match the description provided by the clerks, both clerks identified Snipes in a one man show-up.
No physical evidence connected Snipes to the crime. Snipes had an alibi, but his attorney, a real estate lawyer with no criminal court experience, failed to call any alibi witnesses.
A jury convicted Snipes of armed robbery in July 1998 and he was sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison.
After Snipes’s conviction, another man, Terrance Wyatt, was bragging about having committed the robbery.
Based on the evidence of Wyatt's statements, Snipes’s conviction was vacated by the Superior Court, and he was granted a new trial.
The district attorney dismissed the charges in June 2003, and Snipes was pardoned by the governor in 2007. Snipes was awarded $100,000 in state compensation.
– Stephanie Denzel