ST. LOUIS (CN) – A man imprisoned for 12 years on a drug conviction walked free Wednesday due to a corrupt ex-cop’s testimony. U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson ordered Stephen Jones released after U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan filed a motion saying the state “can no longer vouch for” former Officer Vincent Carr’s testimony in the case.
Jones, 36, of St. Louis, was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in 1998, largely based on testimony by then-Officer Vincent T. Carr. Carr claimed he entered Jones’ home on Oct. 29, 1997, and seized a 3 oz. bag of crack cocaine that he saw Jones drop on the floor.
Carr and his partner, ex-Officer Bobby Lee Garrett, admitted in February 2009 that they had planted evidence and stole money in other drug cases. Carr was sent to federal prison for a year and Garrett for 28 months. Leo Liston, another of Garrett’s partners, was sentenced to 3 months on a related conviction.
Jones’ release was part of a promise prosecutors made to review any case that depended on the word of any of the discredited St. Louis City police officers.
Jones is the first prisoner to walk free from the reviews, but he may not be the last. About 1,000 convictions have been or will be reviewed.
Since no other officers were in he kitchen, “there is no credible independent evidence corroborating Carr’s testimony,” Callahan’s motion states.
But Callahan declined to declare Jones innocent.
“No one reasonably believes that Officer Carr planted $15,000 worth of illegal drugs in the residence,” Callahan said in a statement. “It is more of a question of whose drugs. I would characterize the matter as a case of reasonable doubt rather than a case of actual innocence.”