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3 Black Men Who Made Up The "Chester Trio" Get Their Murder Convictions Overturned Two Decades After Being Sentenced

A Pennsylvania judge recently overturned the murder convictions of the "Chester Trio"—Derrick Chappell, Morton Johnson, and Samuel Grasty—after nearly 25 years of imprisonment. Convicted in the late 90s for the murder of 70-year-old Henrietta Nickens, their innocence claims were supported by new DNA evidence pointing to an unknown man. 

Paul Casteleiro, Grasty's attorney from Centurion, stated that the judgment serves as confirmation of their prolonged declarations of innocence.

"This order means so much in that it says this court believes that these guys would be acquitted, they're innocent," Casteleiro told CNN. "That's powerful after all these years of knocking on the door and being denied everywhere they went."

Despite opposition from prosecutors, Delaware County Judge Mary Alice Brennan ruled in favor of a new trial, highlighting the significance of the new DNA findings. This decision elicited emotional responses from the trio and their legal teams, emphasizing the long battle for justice. Although the ruling marks a significant step, the three men remain incarcerated pending a decision on an appeal by the prosecutors, with a bail hearing scheduled. 

Their legal representation was provided by nonprofit organizations dedicated to exonerating wrongly convicted individuals. This case is part of a larger pattern of overturned murder convictions, showcasing the evolving impact of modern forensic techniques on the justice system.

"As soon as (Johnson) heard, he went and found Derrick (Chappell) in the yard and brought Derrick in, and they just stood there hugging and crying," said Vanessa Potkin of the Innocence Project, who represents Johnson. "You can imagine what an ordeal this has been for them."

Link: CNN


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