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Perman Pitman

Other Plea Cases with Perjury or False Accusation
On September 27, 2005, 51-year-old Robert Mays, a member of the Sons of Malcolm X street gang, was fatally shot in North Camden, New Jersey.

In February 2006, police arrested 34-year-old Perman Pitman and charged him with first-degree murder. Pitman admitted that he was present at the time Mays was shot, but said that he was not involved in the shooting.

Pitman, a former member of the Sons of Malcom X street gang, was well known to police. When he was 21, Pitman was charged with murdering an 18-year-old youth in a gang-related dispute. Pitman pled guilty to that shooting and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Pitman was released from prison in the spring of 2005 and opened an auto-detailing business in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. After he was arrested for the murder of Mays, Pitman’s mother attempted to confess to the murder to protect her son, but that claim was rejected by authorities.

Pitman told police that he had known Mays for years, that he knew Mays was involved in drug dealing and that he met with Mays to talk about how to deal with rival drug dealers who were trying to force Mays out of business. As he and Mays were chatting on Mays’ porch, two men came up and began shooting and Pitman said he fled.

Twenty months later, Pitman agreed to plead guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to five years in prison. He later said he was “mentally beat down” and believed that if he persisted in going to trial, he would remain imprisoned for many more years.

While in prison, Pitman began visiting the law library and ultimately filed a motion requesting the prosecution to disclose any evidence favorable to his innocence. A prosecutor assigned to review the case discovered a note in the file from Harry Collins, the prosecutor on the case when Pitmen pled guilty. The note said that the witness who had identified Pitman admitted he had been paid to implicate Pitman by the drug dealers who were trying to muscle Mays out of the drug business. The note also said this information was for the prosecution only and added: “Please destroy this note.”

The note was not destroyed and the prosecutor assigned to the case in response to Pitman’s motion discovered it and it turned over to Pitman’s lawyers.

Pitman’s defense lawyers interviewed the witness described in the note. The witness said that prior to Pitman’s guilty plea, he had told authorities that his original statement that he saw Pitman shoot Mays was false and that “he did not see anything.”

The prosecution then moved to vacate Pitman’s conviction. The case was dismissed and Pitman was released from prison on February 23, 2010.

Collins, the author of the note, then resigned as a prosecutor. Pitman filed a federal civil rights lawsuit. It was settled for an undisclosed amount in May 2016 after a federal judge ruled that Collins was not protected by prosecutorial immunity.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 2/12/2016
Last Updated: 7/6/2016
State:New Jersey
County:Camden
Most Serious Crime:Manslaughter
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2005
Convicted:2007
Exonerated:2010
Sentence:5 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:34
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No