In 1994, a jury convicted Gary Gathers and Keith Mitchell of the first-degree murder of Wayne Ballard and illegal use of firearm. Each was sentenced to 36 years to life in prison. The main witness against them was a 17-year-old boy who had been riding in the car of the man he accused Gathers and Mitchell of shooting.
In 2008, Gathers sought a new trial. He had several alibi witnesses testify that he was at a basketball clinic and a boxing gym that evening, and three other witnesses testified that another man, Darnell Smith, had killed Ballard. The motion was denied, but the hearing was reopened in 2010 when Mitchell joined the motion.
In the 2011 hearing, the witness recanted his identification of Mitchell and Gathers and the defense presented a transcript from a preliminary hearing in 1993 case that called Gathers’ assumed motive into question. However, the motion for a new trial was denied yet again.
Finally, in October of 2014 the District of Columbia Court of Appeals reversed the ruling and ordered a new trial for Gathers and Mitchell. On February 19, 2015, Gathers and Mitchell were released pending a retrial. On April 20, the prosecution dismissed the charges.
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