Man Freed From Prison After 37 Years Following ‘Sex For Lies’ False Witness Discovery
A man who spent 37 years behind bars has been freed after it emerged that detectives allegedly offered a witness sex in exchange for false testimony.
Willie Stokes was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted in 1984 for the murder of Leslie Campbell, who died in North Carolina in 1980.
Prior to his conviction, Stokes’ neighbourhood friend Franklin Lee claimed Stokes confessed to killing a man during a dice game named Leslie Campbell. Lee was in custody on unrelated rape and murder charges at the time, and had allegedly been promised a lighter sentence if he helped police close Campbell’s case.
In federal court testimony last November, Lee said detectives summoned his girlfriend to have sex with him at police headquarters, and allowed her to bring marijuana and a few dozen opioid pills, NBC Philadelphia reports.
When his mother found out about the deal, she reportedly told Lee’s girlfriend not to go to the station again, at which point police allegedly secured him a sex worker.
Lee ended up recanting the story at Stokes’ murder trial, but Stokes was still convicted and sent to prison. Just days later, Philadelphia prosecutors charged Lee with perjury for the story he’d told about Stokes, to which Lee pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a maximum seven-year prison term.
However, Stokes was not made aware of the perjury plea until 2015.
During the November hearing, Stokes’ lawyer, Michael Diamondstein, said: ‘The homicide prosecutors that used Franklin Lee’s testimony to convict Willie Stokes then prosecuted Franklin Lee for lying on Willie Stokes. And they never told Willie Stokes.’
Stokes was finally released from prison on Tuesday, January 4, and was able to greet his mother with a hug. Diamondstein described his release as ‘tremendous’ as well as ‘sad’, because it ‘reminds us of how lawless, unfair and unjust Philadelphia law enforcement was for so long’.
Both detectives who allegedly offered Lee the deal are now deceased.
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