After lawyers for Anthony Wright - who was acquitted of rape and murder Tuesday - accused homicide detectives of coercing a false confession, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office has promised to investigate any "evidence of specific misconduct" by police.
Wright was found not guilty in the 1991 slaying of a 77-year-old Nicetown woman in a retrial resulting from new DNA tests that proved he was not the rapist.
After the verdict, Peter Neufeld of the Innocence Project of New York called for an independent investigation of all convictions of young black men who were prosecuted using evidence developed by the detectives in Wright's case.
At trial, prosecutors relied heavily on an eight-page confession that Homicide Detectives Manuel Santiago and Martin Devlin said Wright gave the day after Louise Talley was killed.
Wright denied confessing and said the detectives held him for hours before telling him he could go home if he signed some documents. He said he did so without reading them.
Santiago and Devlin denied pressuring Wright to confess.
The confession was undermined by DNA tests of clothing the detectives said Wright told them he wore during the crime and which they said they found in his bedroom. DNA tests showed that Talley was the only person who had worn the clothing. The tests also found DNA on clothing from Ronnie Byrd, a former Nicetown crack addict who died in prison in 2013 and who DNA proved was the rapist.
In a statement Wednesday, Cameron Kline, a spokesman for the District Attorney's Office, reaffirmed that despite the acquittal, "We believe that the evidence was sufficient to prove Anthony Wright participated in the murder of Louise Talley."
He added: "If Mr. Wright's legal team, or anyone else, has evidence of specific misconduct by any Philadelphia police officer, they should report it to us. As in the past, we will review it and proceed accordingly."
- Joseph A. Slobodzian