Almost 23 years after losing his infant son and being wrongfully convicted of his death, MAIP client Clarence Jones’s name has finally been cleared. Tuesday, a Baltimore County Circuit Judge, who had been ordered by an appellate court to grant Clarence’s Writ of Actual Innocence, set aside the guilty verdict in his case and found that the State could not retry him, stating “Granting a new trial in this case would not serve the interests of justice.”
This victory comes after more than four years of litigation with our co-counsel at Skadden and Buckley, including an eight-day hearing. At the hearing, we presented the testimony of five medical doctors who testified to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that Clarence’s nine-week-old son, Collin Jones, had died because of a viral infection and aspiration of infant formula that triggered a several clotting disorder and the loss of oxygen and blood flow to his brain – not intentional trauma.
Clarence is one of more than 20 exonerees across the country whose convictions were based on the controversial Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) hypothesis. Like so many of these cases, the State alleged that because Collin had bleeding on the eyes and brain, as well as brain swelling, he must have been shaken by the last person to have been with him. Research over the past two decades has shown that many things can cause these symptoms to occur, which is exactly what happened in this case.
Although the trial court initially denied Clarence’s Writ of Actual Innocence claim because it found that the evidence was not newly discovered, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed that decision last December and denied the State’s motion to reconsider that reversal in February.
Despite that, the State had announced its intent to retry Clarence, even though he served more than 18 years in prison without a single infraction and has been a model citizen since his release on parole almost four years ago. Although nothing can ever give Clarence back his son or the time he lost, he is thrilled to have his legal odyssey come to an end and to have his name finally cleared.
Founded in 2000, the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project corrects and prevents the conviction of innocent people in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. We are one of the most successful of the 54 innocence organizations in the country. We have helped to secure the release and/or exoneration of 39 innocent men who spent a total of 763 years in prison for crimes they did not do. We have also helped pass 19 laws that help improve the criminal justice system.