Sullivan Walter was released after 36 years for a rape he did not commit; making the case the longest known wrongful incarceration of a juvenile in Louisiana history KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt

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Sunday, August 28, 2022

Sullivan Walter was released after 36 years for a rape he did not commit; making the case the longest known wrongful incarceration of a juvenile in Louisiana history

Sullivan Walter was released after 36 years for a rape he did not commit. He was 17 years old at arrest, but prosecuted as an adult. This is the longest known wrongful incarceration of a juvenile in Louisiana history. 

In September 1986, Walter was charged in connection to a home invasion and rape in New Orleans, according to a motion to vacate his conviction.

According to court documents, a woman identified as "L.S." was taking a shower when she saw a man in her house who was covering his lower face with a washcloth and wearing a backwards baseball cap. The man put a shirt over her face and walked her to an "empty unlit bedroom" at knifepoint and raped her.

The woman told police the man dropped his face covering several times during the crime, and she thought she would be able to identify him. She gave descriptions to investigators and worked with a police sketch artist to make a composite drawing, court documents say.

About a month and-a-half after the rape, Walter was arrested for simple burglary and when police thought he looked like the man L.S. described, a photo array was presented to L.S. and she identified Walter as the rapist, court documents say. Walter was wearing a blue baseball cap in the photo, the same color hat the man who raped her was wearing.

“The lawyers and law enforcement involved acted as if they believed that they could do what they chose to a Black teenager from a poor family and would never be scrutinized or held to account,” Davis said. “This is not just about individuals and their choices, but the systems that let them happen.”

Walter’s exoneration came after the office of New Orleans’ district attorney, Jason Williams, a reformist prosecutor recently acquitted of tax fraud, worked with the Innocence Project New Orleans, which investigates wrongful convictions, to file a motion to vacate Walter’s sentence, noting that there were “red flags” throughout the investigation that led to his conviction.

More than three decades later, a Louisiana judge determined Walter, now 53, was wrongfully convicted for a crime he didn’t commit and freed him from prison on Thursday.

The decision by district judge Darryl Derbigny ended the fifth longest wrongful conviction sentence of any juvenile in the US, Nola.com reported, at a time when juvenile sentences, particularly life sentences, are under scrutiny.

Information reads: "Sullivan Walter was released after 36 years for a rape he did not commit. He was 17 years old at arrest, but prosecuted as an adult. This is the longest known wrongful incarceration of a juvenile in Louisiana history."

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