Tuesday, February 08, 2011

I beg your pardon....

Alice White and Jean Phillips of the KU Project for Innocence & Post-Conviction Remedies (formerly known as the Defender Project) won a pardon last month for Frederick Umoja, who was convicted of third-degree robbery in 1969. The pardon was issued by Gov. Mark Parkinson.

According to this LJWorld article, Umoja was one of the "Wichita 8," a group of black defendants convicted in 1969 by an all-white Sedgwick County jury. The trial judge (former AG Robert Stephan) described the racial atmosphere at the trial as "very polarized." Umoja had been living in exile in Africa since 1970, as he fled the country before sentencing. Before leaving office, Gov. Parkinson pardoned three of the Wichita 8, noting that the men were convicted of a crime that had since been repealed.

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