credit/source: Socialist Action
published: 14 May 2017
On May 13, Jimmy Dennis was released after more than 25 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
The crime and the frame-up
On Oct. 22, 1991, Chedell Williams and her friend, Zahra Howard, went to the Fern Rock Transportation Center in Philadelphia to buy a transpass. Outside of the station, they were accosted by two men who demanded Williams’ gold earrings. As the two young women tried to flee, one of the men shot Williams, killing her, and took her earrings. The men fled in a car driven by a third person.
Police soon focused their investigation on a young aspiring gospel and R&B singer, James “Jimmy” Dennis. After hearing that he was a suspect, Jimmy went to the police station, and was turned away. On Nov. 23, Jimmy was arrested. No witnesses could identify Jimmy from photo arrays, but he was charged, tried, and convicted, and sent to Pennsylvania’s death row.
Jimmy’s’ conviction was won by the prosecution on the basis of five witnesses. There was no physical evidence tying him to the crime. No gun was ever recovered and Jimmy was never found to be in possession of a firearm. There were no forensic tests for gunshot residue on Jimmy’s clothing.