Campfire

Episode 6:
State of California
vs.
Quintin Morris

 

Time Served: 27 Years
Status: Out on Parole, 2019

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Abuse of Power:
Suggestive Eyewitness Identification, Tunnel Vision

(Photo / California Innocence Project)

“It is very scary that your entire life can be taken away from you by one person saying they saw you do something.” –Alissa Bjerkhoel, California Innocence Project Attorney

On November 30, 1991, four LA teenagers were returning home from a double date when two black men in a white Cadillac wearing stocking masks pulled up and fired a hail of bullets at them. Thankfully, no one was killed in the attack. Nearby, Quintin Morris and Harlan Morgan were in a yellow Cadillac, stopped at a red light, when a police cruiser showed up, accused them of shooting at the teens, and put them in handcuffs. In a very suggestive identification procedure, the police brought the teens to where Quintin and Harlan were handcuffed, asking if they were, in fact, the culprits. One of the teens positively ID’d Quintin. Both men were then taken into custody. The police investigated further and found no evidence that tied Quintin and Harlan to the crime: no stocking mask, no gun, no bullets, no motive. Quintin was given life in prison while Harlan got off with a reduced sentence thanks to a plea deal. During Quintin’s appeal process in 1997, the real gunman confessed to the crime. Quintin’s conviction was briefly overturned before it was reinstated, in a legal technicality that refused to acknowledge this new suspect and his confession. Quintin spent a total of 27 years in prison and was only released thanks to California Governor Jerry Brown granting him clemency; he was released from prison but is not considered an innocent man, and must abide by the conditions of parole.

California

Date of crime: 11/30/91

Crime: Attempted Murder

Sentence: Life + 12 Years

Interview Subjects:

  • Jim Trainum, Police Practices Expert
  • Alissa Bjerkhoel, Innocence Project Attorney

To learn more, click here:

Innocence Project