Fighting for the Wrongly Convicted: PA Innocence Project Holds Annual Celebration at WHYY
By Monica Peters
The Pennsylvania Innocence Project held its annual celebration on May 11 at WHYY studios. The non-profit organization, that works to exonerate individuals whom were wrongly convicted and prevent innocent persons from being convicted, raised over $10,000 that evening from attendees via pay-by-text donations. Kenneth Granger, who was freed after serving 28 years in prison, was the event’s featured speaker.
The evening’s honorees were Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson who won the Hero of Justice Award. Thompson became the borough’s district attorney in January 2014. Since taking office, he has dismissed or vacated the convictions of 20 individuals. Thompson accepted his award via a video acceptance speech.
Attorney Bradley S. Bridge from the Defender Association of Philadelphia was honored with the Maureen Rowley Award. To date, Bridge has had nearly 1000 convictions vacated due to police corruption. One of his high profile cases includes the reopening of convictions from individuals falsely arrested during the 1995 highly publicized mass police misconduct and corruption scandal in the 39th District. In addition to his past success of overturning wrongful convictions, Bridge still has another 1000 petitions pending to reopen convictions due to police corruption allegations.
Attorneys Jeffrey J. Bresch and Katelyn M. Matscherz both received the Edward D. Ohlbaum Volunteer Award. Both attorneys were acknowledged for providing pro bono legal services including serving as co-counsel on the Crystal Weimer case through the Pennsylvania Innocence Project.
The celebration’s featured speaker, Kenneth Granger, was wrongfully convicted for a homicide and robbery he did not commit. With help from the Pennsylvania and New York Innocence Projects and the Defender Association of Philadelphia, Granger was freed from prison after serving 28 years. Although Granger stands by his innocence, he had to plead no contest to a lesser charge of 3rd degree murder to get his freedom. Granger only took the deal so he could be with his family.
KWY Newsradio Community Affairs Reporter, Cherri Gregg, served as mistress of ceremony. Raffles tickets were sold for a chance for attendees to win vacations to Crested Butte, Colorado with a stay in a 4,000 square-foot home or to Colibri Cottage in St. Lucia. There was also a silent auction with a trip to Villa Sassella in Tuscany, Italy going to the highest bidder.
The Pennsylvania Innocence Project, located at Temple University Beasley School of Law in Center City, was founded in 2008.
For more information on the Pennsylvania Innocence Project contact 215-204-4255, i[email protected] or go to www.innocenceprojectpa.org