CHARLESTON – Since 1989, more than 200 people have been exonerated after DNA testing proved their innocence, including 15 who were serving time on death row.
The man who helped many of those people find their freedom was in Charleston for a fundraiser to aid others in their search for innocence.
Barry Scheck, founder of the Innocence Project and a well-known defense attorney, spoke before a crowd of lawyers and supporters at the Charleston Marriott.
The Innocence Project was founded by Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld in 1992 to assist prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing. Scheck said the Innocence Project is helping the judicial community enter a time of reform.
“We are heading into (a judicial reform) era right now,” Scheck said. “The Innocence Project is something Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives can both support.
“It’s all about public safety and all about getting things right.”
One of the events sponsors, attorney Troy Giatras, said he was proud to help the organization, which he called a worthy cause.
“It’s a shame that there needs to be such an organization, but the Innocence Project does great work,” Giatras said. “It helps address one of the worst nightmares a victim of the American legal system can face, being wrongfully convicted.”
Scheck was also a presenter at the West Virginia Association for Justice’s Annual Convention on Thursday and Friday.