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Complete coverage for exonorated Missourians

February 28, 2006
By: Dan Frumson
State Capital Bureau

Current Missouri State Law provides for financial assistance for people who were exonerated from crimes they did not commit, but only for those who were proven innocent after August 2003. A Republican leader says that will likely change. Dan Frumson has more from the State Capitol.

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The Senate's most powerful member, Michael Gibbons of Kirkwood, wants to change the law so that anyone exonerated by DNA testing can get financial assistance from the state, and not only those proven innocent after 2003

Gibbons says there are four Missourians who would qualify right now, and deserve the state's assistance.

One of which is Steve Toney, who testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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"I was arrested and charged with forceable rape and sodomy back in 1982. And subsequently I was convicted and was given two consecutive life sentences, for something I told them from the beginning I never committed."

If the bill passes, Toney and the three others would receive $50 for each and every day that they were wrongfully in prison.

From the State Capitol, I'm Dan Frumson.

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Four Missouri ex-convicts will receive tax payer dollars if a change to a 2003 law passes. Dan Frumson has more from the State Capitol.

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President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons of Kirkwood is sponsoring legislation that would provide financial assistance to anyone proved innocent by DNA, and wrongfully served jail time.

The issue at hand is current law, which does not provide for all exonerated individuals.

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"The law they passed in 2003 provided for this process, but only for those people exonerated after August 28, 2003. So we're going back to... we're eliminating this start date of 2003 so anybody whose been exonerated is eligible for this."

Gibbons says there is little in the way of opposition to the bill, and that it is likely to pass.

From the State Capitol, I'm Dan Frumson.

***

In 2003, the State Legislature decided to help people wrongfully convicted of crimes who were later proven actually innocent by DNA. But the law only applies to those proven innocent after August 28, 2003. Dan Frumson tells us how now lawmakers want to continue to right that wrong by making all exonerated citizens eligible.

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There are four Missourians who were wrongly convicted, and since have been exonorated for their crimes.

One of those Missourians is Steve Toney, who testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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"I was arrested and charged with forceble rape and sodomy back in 1982. And subsequently I was convicted and was given two consecutive life sentences, for something I told them from the beginning I never committed."

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Toney also says DNA testing proved his innocence in 1996, leaving him wrongfully in jail for nearly 14 years.

Committee Chairman Senator Matt Bartle was almost speechless while trying to offer an apology.

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"So you were wrongfully incarcerated for a total of 14 years? Correct! ... The system failed you sir and I'm very ... No one can ever give you back 14 years of your life. And I realize even this amount of money won't give you back 14 years of your life."

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Senator Michael Gibbons of Kirkwood says the law needs to change.

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"This bill helps us complete the task of righting wrongs that have happened in the State of Missouri."

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The issue is current law, which des not provide for all exonorated Missourians.

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"The law they passed in 2003 provided for this process, but only for those people exonerated after August 28, 2003. So we're going back to... we're eliminating this start date of 2003 so anybody whose been exonerated is eligible for this."

If the bill passes, all exonorated Missourians receive compensation of $50 dollars for each day they spent in jail.

From the State Capitol, I'm Dan Frumson.