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Allen Thrower

Convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in Franklin County, Ohio, in 1973, Allen Thrower was exonerated six years later when an internal police investigation cast suspicion on the testimonies of two key witnesses against him.

On August 28, 1972, Columbus Police Patrolman Joseph Edwards was fatally shot in the head inside a police cruiser while responding to a routine call with his partner, Charles McFadden. McFadden identified 23-year-old Allen Thrower in a photo lineup as his partner’s assailant, and another man, James Edward Moody, was also implicated. When these two men were indicted on September 18, 1972, Moody was taken into custody, but Thrower remained at large. Moody passed a lie detector test in December that immediately cleared his name.

It was not until January 1973 that Thrower was apprehended when he surrendered to the FBI in Beaumont, Texas. Authorities returned Thrower to Columbus, where he was served with indictment papers.

At trial in July, Charles McFadden testified that he saw Thrower’s face twice during the incident—first when Thrower approached the police cruiser and again when Thrower turned around while fleeing the scene. However, the man McFadden saw had a bushy Afro hairstyle. This conflicted with McFadden’s identification of Thrower. Pictures shown to him by Detective Tom Jones were clearly those of Thrower with no hair on the top of his head.

Although Thrower insisted that he was in Detroit at the time of the crime and had witnesses to verify his alibi, McFadden’s eyewitness identification prevailed, and on July 12, 1973, Thrower was convicted in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and sentenced to life in prison by Judge George B. Marshall. The Franklin County Court of Appeals upheld Thrower’s murder conviction on November 27, 1973.

Five years after his conviction, the results of an internal police investigation cast doubt on Thrower’s guilt. On July 18, 1978, Detective Tom Jones was relieved of his duties after questions surfaced surrounding his handling of several murder cases, including the Thrower case. During the same investigation, McFadden was found guilty of violating division rules regarding honesty. McFadden identified Thrower as the killer under oath, but he later admitted that he did not see the assailant’s face on the night of the crime.

In light of these findings, Judge Marshall ordered a new trial. He disqualified himself because of his special knowledge of the case, and Judge Frank Reda replaced him. On August 8, 1978, Thrower was released from jail after signing a $12,000 recognizance bond. Later that month, Jones resigned from the Columbus police force after serving for 23 years. In January, 1979, Thrower was exonerated when the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office dropped the charges against him.

– Carling Spelhaug
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Reported Crime Date:1972
Age at the date of crime:23
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct