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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Innocence Project secures inmate's release

Sherman Townsend, convicted in January 1998 of first-degree burglary and sentenced to 20 years in prison, will be a free man this afternoon thanks to the work of the Innocence Project of Minnesota.

Last week, the IPMN brought a motion for a new trial before Hennepin County District Court Judge Deborah Hedlund. The request was based primarily on the testimony of a man who says he was the one who committed the crime for which Townsend was convicted.

According to Julie Jonas (right), the IPMN attorney who argued the motion on behalf of Townsend, the prosecutor on the case offered to let Townsend out of prison if Townsend agreed to drop his request for a new trial. Townsend agreed, although the bargain means that the burglary conviction will remain on his record.

Jonas told Minnesota Lawyer that she was surprised by the turn of events, but is relieved that Townsend -- who has proclaimed his innocence ever since his arrest -- is finally out of jail.

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