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Robert H. Blanton, III

On February 21, 1972, Eugene Stevens was shot and killed outside his home in Ascension Parish, Louisiana. A group of men and women, including Robert H. Blanton III, were arrested in connection with this murder.
 
At the time of his death, Eugene Stevens had been engaged in an ongoing custody battle with his estranged wife, Glenda Hodgeson Stevens. The prosecution’s theory was that Mavis Hodgeson, the mother of Glenda Hodgeson Stevens, had hired Blanton, Robert Clayton and Celia Manor Harris to kill Eugene Stevens in exchange for $1,500.
 
During Blanton’s trial in 1974, Hodgeson, Clayton, Harris, and three other alleged accomplices all testified for the state against Blanton. Blanton was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, despite his claims that he was in Alabama at the time of the murder and was not involved. On the other hand, each of these alleged accomplices either had their charges dropped or received comparatively light sentences for manslaughter or accessory after the fact, rather than murder. The prosecution did not accurately disclose to the jury that these co-defendants had entered into agreements whereby they would receive lighter sentences in exchange for their testimony against Blanton. Even Robert Clayton, who actually fired the shots that killed Stevens, had his charge reduced to manslaughter, which carried a maximum sentence of 21 years and the prosecution recommended just a five-year prison sentence for him.
 
In 1980, Blanton successfully appealed his conviction on the basis that the prosecution had failed to accurately inform the jury about these agreements with Blanton’s co-defendants. Blanton was thereby granted a new trial, at which time the charges against him were dismissed.
 
- Meghan Barrett Cousino
State:LA
County:Ascension Parish
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Reported Crime Date:1972
Convicted:1974
Exonerated:1980
Sentence:Life
Race:Don't Know
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct