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$7.5M Settlement in Milwaukee Wrongful Conviction

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Milwaukee is expected to pay $7.5 million to a man wrongfully incarcerated for 24 years based on bogus bite mark evidence, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Robert Lee Stinson agreed to settle his claims against the city and  a former police detective. The settlement was reached after eight days in a jury trial over his claims that detectives and dentists conspired to frame him in his neighbor’s homicide using the bite mark evidence. “Over the course of the week and half trial, the jury heard very powerful and moving testimony that convinced all sides that substantial compensation was in order,” said one of his attorneys, Heather Lewis Donnell. “This is certainly the largest wrongful conviction settlement that Milwaukee has ever seen, and one of the largest civil rights settlements as well.”

“The situation …is a very unfortunate one and we don’t want to deny the impact that that whole ordeal had on him and his family,” said Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton. “I think we’re getting to a point where it’s actually more beneficial for us to deal justly with people as opposed to simply getting convictions …we don’t want to be the type of system that’s hellbent on locking people up as opposed to receiving and administering justice.” Stinson was 20 when he says he was framed by detectives and dentists who provided expert opinions on the beating death of his neighbor. He was sentenced to life in prison. The Wisconsin Innocence Project helped free him in 2009 after a panel of forensic experts called the dentists’ conclusions unfounded, and when DNA from the victim’s clothing did not match Stinson. When Ione Cychosz, 62, was found dead near Stinson’s home in 1984, there was little evidence. DNA was not used at the time, but there were several apparent human bite marks on her body.

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