The harrowing true stories of the men featured in Netflix’s The Innocence Files
Between them they spent over 100 years in prison for horrific crimes they didn’t commit
This week Netflix released a chilling new true crime series, The Innocence Files, which looks into the true stories of eight men who between them spent over a hundred years in jail for horrendous crimes they didn’t commit.
The nine-episode series focuses on the work of the Innocence Project, which is a nonprofit legal organisation that uses DNA evidence to acquit those who have been jailed for crimes they didn’t do. There are eight of these cases explored in The Innocence Files and they look at the reasons why the convictions happened such as flawed evidence, misconduct and eyewitnesses wrongfully identifying the accused.
Here are the full, true stories of the eight men featured in the Netflix series.
*The following article contains details from The Innocence Files and some details may be upsetting*
Chester Hollman III
Chester Hollman spent 28 years in jail for a murder he didn’t commit. He was convicted at the age of 21 for the 1991 murder of 24-year-old Tae Jung Ho. Tae Jung Ho was shot as he was walking home, and his friend described the perpetrators to police as two black men, one wearing red shorts, and one was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt. A taxi driver said the same, and added the shooter had got into a car which registration contained “YZA” but he didn’t get the rest.
Four minutes later, the police pulled over Chester Hollman III in his car. He was driving a car with a registration that started “YZA”. Chester was not wearing the clothes described to police, nor were any weapons found in the car. Only one eyewitness identified Chester as the killer – a homeless drug addict with a history of mental illness.
Hollman and his neighbour, who had been riding in the car with him, were both arrested. Hollman denied any involvement. However, dectivites told his neighbour he had confessed and that she would not be charged if she implicated him. The neighbour told police she was waiting in the car whilst Hollman and another man committed the crime.
Chester Hollman’s trial took place in April 1993 and on May 4th 1993, the jury convicted him of second degree murder and robbery.
Kenneth Wyniemko was convicted of 15 counts of criminal sexual conduct, armed robbery and breaking and entering and was sentenced to 40-60 years in jail. The victim of the attack said she had seen very little of the person who did it, but Wyniemko was convicted based off a sketch.
The crime took place on April 30th 1994. A man broke into the victim’s home whilst she was sleeping, handcuffed and blindfolded her and sexually assaulted her multiple times. The victim said she didn’t see her attacker much, but identified him as a white male, aged 20-25 and who was just over six foot. She helped the police to create a sketch, but said it would only be around 60 per cent accurate.
According to his Innocence Project case page, Kenneth Wyniemko was being held on unrelated misdemeanor charges on July 14th 1994 when police informed him that he resembled the composite sketch. Wyniemko was placed in a lineup and the victim identified him as the perpetrator. At the time, Wyniemko was 5ft11 and 43-years-old.
Wyniemko was convicted and sentenced to 40-60 years in prison.
Alfred Dewayne Brown
Alfred Dewayne Brown spent nearly a decade on Texas’ death row for murdering a police officer in a robbery gone wrong.
In April 2003, three men robbed a shop in Houston. It ended in a staff member and the police officer who came to the scene being shot. The following day, police arrested Alfred Dewayne Brown and Dashan Glaspie, who were both 21 at the time, and 23-year-old Elijah Joubert and they were charged with murder.
According to the Innocence Project case page for Alfred Dewayne Brown, Glaspie pled guilty to armed robbery in exchange for a 30-year prison sentence. He testified against both Brown and Joubert, and told police that Brown had shot the police officer. Brown and Joubert were convicted in separate trials in Harris County Criminal District Court and both sentenced to death.
The defence argued that Brown wasn’t involved in the crime and Glaspie was more involved than his testimony suggested. Brown had said he was asleep on his girlfriend’s couch at the time of the crime, and she confirmed his alibi.
Thomas Haynesworth was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault, robbery and abduction. He served 27 years of his 74 year sentence. Haynesworth was convicted over a 1984 sexual assault where the woman was attacked at knifepoint in a day-care centre. Over the next month, four more victims came forward all describing the same attacker.
At the time, Haynesworth was 18 and didn’t have a criminal record but he became a suspect when one of the victims saw him walking down the street and recognised him. His photo was then shown to the other victims and they also said it was him.
Franky Carrillo was also found guilty of murder, even though he was in a different city when the crime took place. He was accused of being a drive-by-shooter which resulted in a man losing his life whilst standing on his drive way at home. Five of the man’s friends and his son all witnessed the event.
Franky Carrillo, who was 16 at the time, became a suspect after police mistakenly identified him as the shooter in another incident. An eyewitness also identified Carrillo as the shooter. This eyewitness told the other witnesses that Carillo was the shooter, and they also testified against him.
There was no other evidence which linked Carrillo to the crime but, in June 1992, the jury convicted him of murder and six counts of attempted murder.
Levon Brooks was sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting and murdering a three-year-old girl. He served 16 years in prison for 1990 attack, which he did not commit.
Levon Brooks was accused of abducting the girl from her home and sexually assaulting her and murdering her. She was discovered two days after she went missing in a pond just 80 yards from her house. Levon Brooks became a suspect because he was an ex-boyfriend of the girl’s mother.
Bite marks were found on the girl and dental impressions were taken from 12 other suspects, but not Brooks. The girl’s six-year-old sister, who had witnessed the abduction, identified Levon Brooks as the man who did it. One the same day, a sample of Brooks’ teeth were taken in jail and two of his teeth were said to “match” the marks. He was charged with murder.
Kennedy Brewer was accused of killing his girlfriend’s three-year-old daughter and was sentenced to death by lethal injection. He served 13 years in jail for the crime he did not commit.
The girl was abducted from her home, sexually assaulted and killed. Brewer was a suspect because he had been babysitting the girl and her siblings earlier that evening and there was no evidence of a forced entry. However, a window near where the children slept was found to be broken.
Brewer was sentenced in 1995 for the crime, but DNA testing found the actual person who did it and he was released in 2008.
Keith Harward spent 33 years in prison for a murder and sexual assault he didn’t commit. He was sentenced to life after two forensic dentists said that Harward’s teeth matched marks left on a victim.
He was accused of the 1982 attack where a man broke into a couple’s home, murdering the man and sexually assaulting his wife. The woman, who couldn’t identify the attacker, had been bitten multiple times. Keith Harward became a suspect six months later when his then-girlfriend reported to police that he had bitten her in an argument.
New forensic evidence proved he was in fact innocent, and also identified the real perpetrator.
The Innocence Files is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.