High court reverses conviction of Louisiana death row inmate
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court has reversed the 2002 murder conviction of a Louisiana death row inmate after ruling prosecutors failed to disclose evidence that could have helped his defense.
The ruling on Monday came in the case of Michael Wearry who was convicted in the 1998 death of a 16-year-old pizza delivery driver from Albany. The victim, Eric Walber, was carjacked and killed. His body was found in Tangipahoa Parish, just across the Livingston Parish line.
In archived WBRZ reports about the crime, prosecutors said a jail house tip lead to the arrests of Wearry and four others.
At the Supreme Court, the justices said that prosecutors should have turned over evidence casting doubt on the credibility of the prison informant and another witness who testified against Wearry. The court also said the state failed to disclose medical records raising questions about a witness' description of the crime.
Justices Samuel Alito filed a dissent joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. Alito said the jury might have convicted Wearry even with the additional evidence.
Wearry was convicted and sentenced to death by lethal injection on March 6, 2002. It took a jury about two-and-a-half hours to make its decision.
"I don't think anybody really wins," Walber's mother, Cherie, said in an interview with a WBRZ reporter in 2002. "I'm not getting Eric back, I'll never see Eric walk in my house again. [Wearry's parents are] gonna lose a son, which is going to hurt them as much as it hurts me," she said.