Transcribe your podcast

It was late on the night of April 11th, 1989, when a single teenage mother of two, Sabrina Butler, went for a jog while her two young boys slept at home when she returned and checked on her nine month old Walter. He wasn't breathing. With no phone in a new apartment building, Sabrina picked him up and banged frantically on her neighbor's doors, begging for help. Finally, a woman let her in and showed Sabrina how to perform adult CPR on her infant son at the hospital.


They couldn't figure out what was wrong with Walter, and they blamed his internal injuries on child abuse. Sabrina was aggressively interrogated well into the morning hours, and a statement was drafted for her to sign accounting for the damage to his internal organs. A common result of performing adult CPR on an infant tired, alone and scared, Sabrina signed underneath the dotted line as an act of protest, a parade of medical professionals and her coerced statement made Sabrina's not guilty plea look like a callous lie, sending her to Mississippi's death row.


Her novice trial lawyer contacted civil rights attorney and death penalty activist Clive Stafford Smith, whose investigation discovered and confirmed why Walter had stopped breathing in the first place. He suffered from chronic nephrotic syndrome brought on by polycystic kidney disease. Sabrina Butler is the first female death row exonerated in the United States. This is wrongful conviction, which Jason in. You know, we create these podcasts with the aim to educate as well as to inspire action. Now, we'd love to hear from you.


We'd love for other listeners to hear what you've been inspired by when listening to these incredible human stories and what you've been inspired to do. Have you written a letter, talk to a friend or parent about it? Have you donated money or dedicated some of your time? What's your story? Come leave all of us a note in the review section of Apple podcast. Tell us how you've been moved. And and remember, and I truly mean this. No action, no story is too small to share.


What's yours.


This episode is sponsored by AIG, a leading global insurance company, and Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, a leading international law firm. The AIG pro bono program provides free legal services and other support to many non-profit organizations and individuals most in need, and recently announced that working to reform the criminal justice system will become a key pillar of the program's mission. Paul Weiss has long had an unwavering commitment to providing impactful, pro bono legal assistance to the most vulnerable members of our society and in support of the public interest, including extensive work in the criminal justice area.


Welcome back to wrongful conviction. Today, we have Sabrina Butler Smith, who is the first woman ever to have been exonerated from death row in the United States. And the story is much deeper than that. But, Sabrina, welcome. I'm so glad you're here. Thank you for having me. And we have another Smith by Skype. We have a British attorney who specializes in civil rights cases as well as overturning death penalty cases in the U.S.. Clive Smith, thanks for being here, joining us over the phone.


My pleasure. Sabrina, let's start with you. I want to go back in time to your life. You know, as a teenager, having a child, having a baby, single mom right back in Mississippi is Columbus, Mississippi, right? Correct. And what was that like?


How do you deal with it? It's a lot of responsibility for a young kid like yourself back then.


Well, actually, being that young, I was kind of me and my mom didn't have a really good relationship. And so I think that led me down the path that I traveled on. And actually, my son that passed, he was my second child. I actually had to at that time. I've been on my own since I was 14. So basically trying to figure out life from 14 year to grow up fast.


Yes, I did. Sabrina was convicted, wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for the murder, which we know was not a murder at all of her baby boy, Walter Dean Butler.


So let's go back to April 11th, 1989. You went out for a jog. Yes. And you returned to find a horrible situation, not someone breathing.


And I panicked. And I didn't know what to do because where I stated I'd only been over there a little while, I didn't have a phone.


I had just got the apartment, the other housing. I was a poor teenager that didn't have a job or money.


And the people over there did not know me in that apartment complex. So it was kind of hard. And I didn't have a car or anything like that. And so I just grabbed him and started beating on doors, trying to, you know, get someone to help me. And that was very difficult at that time of night because it was late. What time was it? Almost twelve o'clock. So I did have a hard time trying to get help.


The first lady that opened her door, she said that her kids were sick and she didn't have time to take me to the hospital. So that lady close the door in my face. And when I ran downstairs, lady from an apartment and asked me what was wrong and grabbed my son and we took him in the apartment, she put him on the floor and started CPR. So I went next door to try to get someone else. And finally I got this couple that was willing to take me.


And so when I went back and she told me to hold his nose, blowing his mouth and pressing his stomach, but she didn't tell me the right way. So I applied to adult CPR to my son all the way to the hospital, not knowing that whatever was wrong, I probably was making it worse.


I didn't know that, though. I was just scared and I was trying to get him to breathe.


But he he he didn't. And we know that by the time you got to the hospital was really too late. They attempted to resuscitate Walter at the hospital unsuccessfully.


And I have to say there are. Unfortunately, tragically, a lot of cases like this where people, well-meaning people like yourself, apply CPR that they've been taught to do, but they have never been taught the difference between doing it for a child or an adult. And we know that if you do it, the normal CPR techniques to a child, it's virtually impossible to do that without breaking their ribs or causing some other kind of injuries because they're so little and so fragile.


Clive, let's turn to you.


How did this thing go so wrong so fast? And why was Sabrina convicted when all she was trying to do was help?


Well, I mean, there are several factors. I mean, one is Sabrina, as she says, 18 and Panic-stricken. Another is that and this was something I didn't know until I got involved in this case, actually, that in Mississippi, which is true of all 50 states, if you go to a hospital with a child who's been injured, if the doctors and medical staff report this is child abuse, then they're absolutely immune from being sued or being prosecuted for anything.


If they don't report it is child abuse, then they can be held liable themselves. So what happens when a child is brought in by a terribly panic stricken mother like Sabrina? Is this this osmotic pressure that forces the hospital to look at this and start talking about it as child abuse from the very beginning, whether that's true or false and their insurance policy makes them do that. And obviously what that does to an 18 year old, Sabrina, is make her panic even more.


And then you get this other utterly bizarre thing. And I've done a lot of shaken baby cases, and that's a child syndrome cases. There are only two medical diagnoses that have nothing to do with helping the child get cured, but everything to do with prosecuting the caregiver. And that's those two diagnoses. So if you think about it, the diagnosis of that a child syndrome is that looks like the child has been abused. And then there are other elements of this diagnosis that the caregiver changes her story.


And this has got nothing to do with treating the child for whatever it is, a broken rib or whatever it's all to do with prosecuting the parents or when someone like Sabrina says, you know, I don't know what happened, the child stopped breathing. I think he's sick. And then the doctors say, well, I don't think that's true. I think this is abuse. Then someone like Sabrina inevitably starts panicking, saying, well, you know, yesterday he had a little fool.


The other day something else happened. That's then a diagnostic criterion for saying that she abused that child. And then, of course, the police come in and start getting heavy handed with a young girl like Sabrina.


When I took my son in, I was panic and I was scared. But I thought about, oh, you in trouble because you left him at the house by yourself. That was my thing. So people were asking me, you know, why were there so many statements? Well, the statement was trying to cover up the fact that I had left my son alone for those 10 minutes. And so I was trying to explain that away. I knew that I should not have left him at home by myself, but I didn't kill him.


I just was trying to cover that up. And so when we got an interrogation, you know, they asked me a bunch of questions and I could just remember trying to, you know, say something to that fact.


Did have a lawyer or anyone to help you as you were there in your most panicked state that anyone could ever be.


And having just lost your child, the only thing I had with the two detectives that were in the room and they were dead set on saying you stole your baby, beat them, that's what they kept saying.


But how did they finally succeed in their quest to get you to say a bunch of things that not only weren't true, but that you knew weren't true and that they probably knew weren't true?


Well, the lead investigator kept screaming at me.


And when I finally started telling him what exactly what happened, he balled up everything that I had to say and he threw that in the trash. And after so many hours of him yelling and screaming and looking like he wanted to get up and jump on me, fight me, you know, I was scared. He actually wrote out the statement and he shoved it in my face. He wrote on the statement that I had punched my son. And I just agreed to everything that they say because I wanted it to.


And he kept saying, you know, this is what you did and we need you to sign this. You know, they kept screaming at me and that was like four hours of interrogation with him. And I was just I was tired. I just didn't know how. I just wanted it all to end.


So I didn't sign where he told me to sign under the line, hoping that that was my way of saying, look, I didn't do this and that someone would see that.


Well, and at this point, you had been up, right, because this Calzado at midnight. Yeah. This ordeal started at midnight, so now we're talking about a teenage traumatized, grieving mother who hasn't slept, who is literally fighting for your life at this point, who knows how he would react? I mean, we've been talking about false confessions. We, of course, have our whole new season of the show, False Confessions, which is very purposefully highlighting the fact that these false confessions play a role in approximately 25 percent of wrongful convictions.


In your case, the circumstances were even more grave because we know that ultimately you were sentenced to death.


Yes. Clive, how is it that they did such a ridiculously poor job investigating the medical side of this case? So much so that later on when Sabrina was finally exonerated, that they basically acknowledged, oh, yeah, we didn't really do any work on it. And the doctors were like, yeah, I guess I was wrong about that. Like, I think most people like to think that that couldn't happen in America.


Well, I tell you, when you think about what the causes of illnesses and injuries in children, we're still pretty medieval in that. And, you know, we're getting better. But the other factor is that you have a GP. I have great sympathy with GPS. I don't know how and how some GP who's meant to know everything about everything is possibly going to be able to figure out what it is that's afflicting the person. And so you have these folks who actually are just not experts and called in and they're asked to say what happened to this child.


And again, all of this had been set in motion by what happened in the hospital where the doctors had this sort of pressure to say that it was child abuse. And once they say it's child abuse, people, professionals don't like to admit they made mistakes and they really, really, really don't like to admit they made mistakes in cases where they contribute to an 18 year old young woman being sentenced to death for something she didn't do. So when a doctor takes the position that this looks like abuse, there's this sort of human pressure to stick with it and to then start justifying it, using grandiloquent Latin terms and no one else understands.


And, you know, in that first trial, there was no challenge, no meaningful challenge to these doctors coming in saying this was abuse. And they stated it like it was on a tablet from Moses in Mount Sinai.


And this trial, from what I've read and seen about it, it was basically a joke, not a funny joke, but a joke. I mean, this trial.


No witnesses were called in their defense because the district attorney subpoenaed every last one of them, and one of my attorneys was during the whole trial, he was pop again in his mouth and he kept telling me, you know, we got this thing nipped in the bud, don't you worry about it. And so that's the way it went through the whole trial. I was just told to look at the jury. That was it.


If you're a corporate lawyer in New York and you're representing someone for money, you get a thousand dollars an hour. And yet in Mississippi, for representing someone of their life, you get a thousand dollars for the whole case and you get what you pay for. And there were two lawyers in Sabrina's first case, and one, as she says, I'm afraid, is absolutely true, that he was just a drunk. And the other was this young guy who I have great respect for.


But he had no idea what he was doing. He tried. And, you know, the thing I'll give him most credit for was after that failed Sabrina, the first thing he did was give a call to my office to get some help on the appeal. But you kind of wish that that happened as opposed to Greenert got sentenced to death.


The trial took how long? It took a week. You would now been held in jail awaiting trial. For how long?


A little bit over a year before I went to trial in the first trial. So you'd been in jail for a year? Obviously, that's a traumatic experience piling on top of the other awful experiences that you've had already. You've got one drunk lawyer and one lawyer who doesn't really know his way around a courtroom. But, you know, you didn't do it right. So when the jury went out, how long did they deliberate for? I think about an hour or two.


I just knew that they were going to come back in and say I was guilty because my attorneys, they didn't really, you know, stand up and do anything in my behalf. And it was like everything was solely on the district attorney. The jury was not looking at my attorneys at all. They were looking on the floor. They were looking at the ceiling. They was looking everywhere else. But when my attorney spoke but when the district attorney spoke, they were on the edge of their seats.


And so me looking at it at that age, I said to myself, I'm done for. I mean, I knew that. I just had that feeling.


I asked you a question on that because, you know, if it's my son Will and he's died to some tragedy and I'm incredibly broken hearted about it. Yeah. To have some prosecutors stand up there and say that I'm guilty of murdering my own child and then going one step further and being a little pious and saying I'm so subhuman that I deserve to die. When, you know, the worst you did was maybe go out for a jog when you shouldn't be allowed.


They hurt me with every fiber of my being because I kept asking my attorneys to let me take the stand in my own defense and they wouldn't do it. They kept saying, we got this thing, we got to nip it in the bud. We don't need you to testify. We, I beg them, read the whole thing. And they they would not let me testify. And I tried. And then they impugned your right to not testify, your Fifth Amendment right.


And then the prosecutor got up in her face and say, look like a monster. Right. That's what he did. The Pacers Foundation is a proud supporter of this episode and of the Last Mile organization, which provides business and tech training to help incarcerated individuals successfully and permanently re-enter the workforce. The Pacers Foundation is committed to improving the lives of Hoosiers across Indiana, supporting organizations dedicated primarily to helping young people and students. For more information on the work of the Pacers Foundation or The Last Mile program, visit Pacers Foundation dog for the last mile drug.


When I walked into Mississippi's death row, I was 19, I had to walk down this long hall and when I first got there, they put Wilkesboro in your hair. They stripped you. Everything that you have a sit in is like glass tank for like two hours. And I'm looking at all the people going around. And they came and they fingerprinted me and they just took all of what I thought was me a white. They gave me his name tag and had murderer on it.


It had my MDC number on it and it had death. So I had to walk with my hands shackled around my waist and I had to walk with lay guards. And I had a security guard who's walking next to me, a correctional officer. And he said, you see those inmates out there? And they feel he said, we tell them when to get up. He said, we tell them when to go to sleep. We tell them what to eat.


He's put you down here. And by the time he said that, by the time I got to Mexico security because we had to walk, I was just I was crying. I couldn't think I was trying to figure out what was happening to me. So when I got there, they put me in a six by Nacio, no bigger than your bathroom and shut the door left. And during that time, that was one of the hardest things to ever have to deal with, knowing that I didn't kill my son, knowing that these people are saying we're going to kill you.


I had a death date at the time was July 2nd of 1990, and I didn't know that the state had exhausted all state remedies before they could actually carry out a death sentence.


So when that day came, that was one of the hardest days. Man, I, I paced the floors. I listened for every sound. I listened to all the noises, keys made because I was thinking that they were coming to take me for my death. So that is very it was very traumatic for me. That is completely insane. I mean, talk about psychological torture beside all the physical deprivation and for you not to even know that you weren't going to be executed.


No one bothered to tell you that you have. I mean, that's that's nuts. I've never heard that before. And I've been doing this stuff for almost three decades.


It's insane.


And the fact that you're sitting here upright again and smiling is I you know, now I'm starting to understand why people say all the great things they say about you.


So how did you find the strength to persevere? She was the only woman on death row in Mississippi at that time.


No, I was not. It was another girl on death row named Susan Baffour who helped me a lot.


But I say to anyone who asks that question, my most basic strength is because when Clive came, Clive was the only one who came to the prison.


Clive brought me artwork. He kept talking to me. He kept saying, you know, give me a chance to look at this case. We're going to fix this. That's why I feel so close to him, because he saved my life without Clive or Robert McDuff, the other attorney, right?


Correct. I don't think I would be sitting here because, I mean, he was a godsend. Clive was a godsend.


And I thank him for bringing out the evidence in my case. I really do.


And Clive, so you got a letter one day in the mail from one of her trial attorneys. Is that how this started?


I think he called me up, actually. And I remember coming to see Sabrina and, you know, I was representing Susie Balfour at the time, too. And it's sad to say, not the only time that I've had someone on death row at the lawyers didn't even tell them that they weren't going to get executed. And, you know, I remember meeting Sabrina for the first time and, you know, she's a kid. Right. Sorry about that, Sabrina, that you were.


Yeah, you're right. And, you know, she's stuck there all by herself. And, you know, I looked at her case and I thought, this is going to get reversed. I mean, first is the comment on silence. But there's all sorts of other stuff that the Mississippi Supreme Court actually didn't even reach. So I was pretty confident we were going to get a new trial then, you know, we were going to have to go back and start again.


And you were convinced you can get executed? I was convinced you weren't. There was still a long road ahead of us. Yeah, the case against it was such nonsense. But nevertheless, you know, once someone's been convicted and sentenced to death, there is a huge presumption of guilt and it's going to be really hard to get them out from under it.


Sabrina, on death row in Mississippi, I know you talk about the one other person who was there with you, Susan. Yes.


Susan Barford.


Did she give you hope to persevere? I mean, you talked about Clive and the other attorney who came to your rescue, quite literally, like The Avengers writing it out of nowhere, I guess. But were there any God, I'd like to be an avenger.


I appreciate.


OK, well, Sabrina and I are going to go to a costume store and get your cake when we're done here. So, yeah, don't worry about it. But yeah. Was there any was there any particular moment that you think back on you go. That was a moment when I found hope.


Well I can remember going through my death date before that we get down on the floor and the toilets were connected between walls and we would have that as our phone.


And I started talking to her. She was older than me. I think Susan was like 25 or 26 when she got Cintas in the same county that I was from Columbus, Mississippi. Clive worked on her case as well. And so we got to know each other like that, you know? And she started talking to me and was trying to explain to me about the death sentence and how it works and stuff like that after the fact. So that's how I had someone to talk to communicate through the vent or through.


Through the vent. Through the vent in the toilet. They kept us where we couldn't talk to anyone. They put us down this hall and they put a piece of tape on the floor because they didn't know, you know, where to put female death row inmates. So we were just down a hall. And I think it had no one beyond this point. And as far as me and Susan, we had to sign papers saying that we wouldn't kill each other before we could even go on Yaka all together.


Everywhere we went, we had to be shackled. We had no contact, no other inmates could come and touch us or say anything to us. We were locked down 23 hours a day. And then when they did give us your call, it was just stayed in his bullpen like you do dogs with no shade. No nothing is just standing out there. That's the way they had us.


I mean, it was crazy, but now we know you're here. And I want to highlight that the odds changed a lot in court with proper legal representation that everybody should have. And Clive, when did you feel that the tide really turned in the retrial?


Well, you have to remember that actually no one ends up in prison or on death row for something they didn't do without there being a semblance of evidence first. Was the question of the injuries to Little Walter, you had the injuries to his chest, which we could explain through CPR, and that also tied in to the statement against Brain because the police had coerced her into saying she punched the child, which wasn't that far from the truth. The truth is she had done CPR to the child in a way that was almost the equivalent.


But this was after the child was succumbing to other things. And so we were able to show to the jury the way that the police. Most importantly, I think, was the medical evidence. I spent many, many long hours and the medical library in New Orleans looking for what I thought the real explanation would be for what we saw in this child. And that was when I came across the chronic fatigue syndrome, the syndrome that Sabrina's daughter has to you know, this seemed clearly to explain everything we were seeing.


And that was one part of hope because we were able to get our own medical examiner who could give an explanation for what really happened, but also get the medical examiner to admit what he didn't know. And then also to admit that they simply didn't know that there was this chronic nephrotic syndrome could explain all of the things they saw and they just didn't know about it because that was beyond their expertise.


And then, you know, I think the turning point in the trial was when we had the cop on the stand and I had this really ugly doll and I wanted him to show the jury how he would do CPR on a little infant. And, you know, it didn't really matter what he did because he was a police officer who was trained in CPR. So if he did it properly with two little fingers, the infant's chest, and that would demonstrate.


But no one else in the courtroom probably knew, which was how to do it properly. But if he got it wrong, then that was the end of that case, because if the police officer trained like that, would do CPR in the way that we said Sabrina had done it in a way that would crush the infant's ribs, then, you know, that was an incredibly powerful argument for what actually happened. And sure enough, he would have killed that little child the way he did CPR.


He put his two hands on it and he would have crushed the child. And then, of course, he went out in the hall and I knew he was going to tell his body in the hole and we just got him. So I made an argument to the judge in front of the jury that I was afraid that he was going to tell the next police officer how to do it properly. And sure enough, that's what he did. And so we exposed that when the next guy came in.


And that just showed that they were all getting together in the hallway and trying to concoct a case against Sabrina. So all of that went really well. But having said that, there were a couple of other things, some of the other witnesses, the neighbors and so forth, who corroborated what Sabrina said, which was that she had run around desperately trying to find people to take her to hospital and help. You know, this just showed the truth, that here was an 18 year old who was in a massive panic as opposed to what the prosecutor wanted to say, that she was some sort of sociopath or beaten up a little baby.


Then you come to the verdict. And I've got to say, you know, capital trials for me as a lawyer are the greatest laxative known to humanity. If you're not nervous when you're doing those cases, then you just shouldn't be doing it and not admit to my knees. Knocking Although they probably will. I was trying to hold Sabrina up. Oh, man.


Klavan I mean, we had to stand before the judge. My legs feel like spaghetti noodles. And Cliveden told me on either side. And when the when the judge came back with that not guilty verdict, I just failed because I was like, finally, this is over. And I'm, you know, thinking that it's, you know, it's OK, I'm free.


But, you know, there wasn't a whole thing. I wasn't I'm still not free. I'm still working through that because after I get out and I got a chance to see my oldest son, I had to fight for more years to get him back. And then my daughter, who was 17 years old, who has the same exact disease my son died from. So and it was polycystic kidney disease. And both of her kidneys are bad. And they're saying that she will lose both and there is no cure.


So it was the same thing on filicide, the same thing every day is hard because I've already lost one.


The reason I consider my profession such a privilege is there is no greater privilege, I think, than being able to help just give someone like Sabrina her life back. It's a fantastic thing to be blessed and be able to do. It would be great if we didn't have to do these things. But those of us who work in this field movement, I couldn't have said it better myself. I mean, the happiest moments of my life, putting my kids in a separate category, because that is a separate category.


That's true. Let me say this. Well, I've got you and I'm really grateful for you doing what you're doing. And let's just get a commitment on the head and you're going to carry on doing it in the next 50 years. Thank you. What age? I'm not sure. Well, if you will. I will. I can't stop. Won't stop. Not going to stop. And just getting to know all the amazing things that Sabrina is doing.


Not to spoil the surprise, but Sabrina has been a tremendous advocate for change for almost a quarter century. Now, if you go to witness to Innocence Dog, we are death row survivors. And if you go to that website, then you can get me and several others, any other speaker that you might like to come and speak for you. Right. That's witness to innocence dog. Witness to Innocence Dog. And you can find Sabrina there, as well as so many other extraordinary people who I'm very fortunate to call my friends and who I'm proud to work together in this fight to abolish the death penalty.


And before we get to closing arguments, one thing I did want to ask you, Clive, is I would like you to talk about what people should look for if they're on a jury and how to make our listeners be the best jurors that they can be.


There are several things you should bear in mind. The first is, what does it really mean to be sure beyond a reasonable doubt? And I'm pretty horrified when I ask judges about that, because when I've asked judges to put a number on it, the average judge both in America and in Britain and I've done this many times, has averaged out eighty three per percent. Sure that means that aiming to be wrong one time and six in which six million Americans in the judicial system, the judges are aiming to put a million innocent people into prison and they take that as their standard.


And as Robin Hood will teach you, if you aim low, you miss. And the other thing to think about as a juror is there are 12 of you, but there's only one of you and one of you is the person who has responsibility for what you do. So very often is this sort of herd mentality where everyone wants to agree that you're not responsible for what those other people do. And as an individual juror, you have the right from beginning to end to say, respectfully, I just disagree.


And one of the things we never tell jurors is how they can disagree. So they're never told that at any moment you as a juror can send a note out to the judge saying, well, you know, it doesn't really matter what these other 11 people are doing. I'm telling you, we're not now agreed because I think this person is not guilty and you always have that right. And people try to bully you into not doing that. Well said.


And I'm glad you brought that up. That's actually a new a new point, I think, for a lot of our listeners. And it's super important for everyone to know that if you're on a jury, you have that right. You can just basically say, hey, this this is going to end in a hung jury or an acquittal because I'm not voting guilty. And if that's how you feel, don't be bullied. I've heard too many stories as you have people who finally just got tired and they wanted to go home and they threw somebody's life away literally because of peer pressure, because no one told them.


And that is your right. No one told them that you can say enough is enough now. And I think that's just very unfair on jurors that we don't say.


And I think a lot of jurors also aren't told that actually their votes are the only one that really matters because we have to have unanimous jury verdicts in this country. OK, so now comes the featured part of our show where I thank both of you profusely for coming in and also for you sharing your story and your remarkable journey. And and, Clive, of course, thank you for for calling in and for all the amazing work that you've been doing.


And so now in order because we saved the best for last. With all due respect to you, Sir Clive, we're going to save Sabrina for last. All right. Very good.


Well, I've been doing death penalty work since I was about 20, which is a long, long time ago. And I do it because of what my mother said to me, which is there's no point. You having a law degree if you don't look at the people, the. We as a society must hate and you get between them and the people during the hazing and you know, when you think about the death penalty, it's extraordinary in theory.


But in practice, when that jury and that judge came back to say to Sabrina, who I count as a dear friend and I count as a very valuable human being, when they came back and said to her that we are going to take your life away, we're going to sacrifice you on the altar to some mythological god of deterrence, because we're going to do that to pretend we're doing something meaningful about crime. That's just horrific to me. I've worked six of my clients died and the electric chair, the gas chamber and the lethal injection you gave me.


And it's always in the middle of the night for whatever reason. And it's because I think we're deeply ashamed of what we're doing. And each time I have come out of the death chamber and I've looked up at the stars above and I've thought to myself, my God, did that really make the world a better place?


And, you know, the bottom line is it sure didn't. And I'm so glad that in Sabrina's case, not only did she not end up on the lethal injection gurney, but she ended up getting her life back and making so much of it. And that's just a wonderful, wonderful thing, Sabrina.


Well, I basically want to say that the journey was not easy.


I had to do a lot of growing up, going through this trial and tragedy of losing my son. Today, I still fight the state of Mississippi where my son is buried. It took me two years to find him. When I did find him, he was buried on a gravel road in the woods on a hill under a tree.


No marker except the little bitty marker that they have. I am trying to fight them because I found out that the death certificate still says today that he was murdered.


OK, so when I found that out, there was another blow to me as a person because I'm trying to say, you still have this out here.


I was found not guilty. The system of Mississippi paid me for wrongful conviction what they thought it was worth. But you still are convicting me in some sort of way.


How could I ever be a nurse or doctor, anything with death certificate that stated that? So the attorneys now working in the process of trying to get the state examiner's office to change the death certificate in itself, they refused to do that. So now we have to go to court. That is another battle that I am currently in the process of trying to do. I said that in a sense to say that we are all human beings. We do not have the right as each individual to take a person's redemptive period.


That's my belief. I feel that as long as God has me here, I'm going to fight till I can't fight anymore, because that's what I'm here for.


I feel like I can go all over the world and talk about this case until I'm blue in the face. If it change one man, one heart, then I feel like I'm doing my job and I just thank God. And for all the people that were involved in my case, that he gave me a second chance to try to help someone else. And that's what I'm here for.


Don't forget to give us a fantastic review wherever you get your podcast. It really helps. And, you know, I'm a proud donor to the Innocence Project and I really hope you'll join me in supporting this very important cause. And in so doing, helping to prevent future wrongful convictions. It's easy. Go to Innocence Project Dog to learn how to donate and get involved. I want to thank our amazing producers, engineers and editors, Connor Hall and Kevin Ortiz.


The music in the show is by three time Oscar nominated composer J. Ralph. Be sure to follow us on Instagram at wrongful conviction and on Facebook at Wrongful Conviction podcast. Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lovaas for Good podcast in association with Signal Company No. One, Northparkes. For NPR ex.