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John McManus

Convicted of robbery in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, in 1911, John McManus was exonerated one year later after it was determined the only witness had committed perjury and no robbery had occurred.
On February 8, 1911 between 11:30 P.M. and midnight, Joseph Balk, a Boston police officer, was patrolling the city when he heard gunshots and saw two men running down the street, the man in pursuit shooting at the man fleeing him. Officer Balk gave chase and caught up with the two men. When he came upon them, John McManus was on his knees in the street with John Shorey standing above him brandishing a pistol in one hand and a gold watch and chain in the other. Shorey claimed that McManus had stolen his watch from him, and he only gave chase to reclaim his property. Officer Balk took both men to prison for the night.
The next morning, Shorey was brought to court where he revealed he was a deputy sheriff in the town of Conway, New Hampshire. However, Shorey did not have the privilege to carry a concealed weapon in Massachusetts, so he was fined $50 and released. However, McManus was held in prison until he could be tried for robbery.
The only witness against McManus at trial was Shorey, who gave the same account he had given to the police. In his defense, McManus claimed that Shorey's account was false. McManus was walking home the night he was arrested when Shorey stopped him and asked for a match. As the two men stood talking, a woman told them, from the window above, that if they didn't move she would throw water on them. Shorey then told McManus that he and the woman had dined together earlier in the evening and she was angry with him. Shorey proceeded to argue with the woman. He grew angry and attempted to shove McManus into the gutter. McManus shoved Shorey back, which infuriated him. Shorey then pulled out his pistol and McManus ran away with Shorey following and shooting at him, which was how Officer Balk came upon them.
On March 15, 1911, a jury found McManus guilty of robbery, and he was sentenced to three years in the House of Corrections.
About six months later, an account appeared in the newspaper about a New Hampshire sheriff who became drunk and assaulted a newsboy while illegally carrying a pistol. Officer Balk became suspicious because the circumstances were so similar to McManus's account, so he investigated and learned the sheriff was indeed John Shorey. Balk then approached the District Attorney and told him of his suspicion that Shorey had committed perjury and McManus was actually innocent of the robbery.
The District Attorney’s office conducted a thorough investigation of McManus’s case and concluded that McManus was indeed innocent. The District Attorney recommended an immediate pardon, which was granted. On February 28, 1912, John McManus was released from the House of Corrections.
— Researched by Jordan Mathieu
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Reported Crime Date:1911
Sentence:3 years
Race/Ethnicity:Don't Know
Age at the date of crime:
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation