In a dramatic turn of events in the courtroom today, the State of Tennessee dropped murder charges against Adam Braseel during a hearing on his petition for a new trial. At the Grundy County Courthouse in Altamont, Tenn., Judge Justin Angel granted a Writ of Error Coram Nobis, finding that Braseel deserved a new trial for the murder of Malcolm Burrows, for which he was serving a life sentence. In a deal with prosecutors, Braseel accepted a plea to the least serious charge in the indictment, aggravated assault of another individual, as part of a “best interest” plea that allowed for his immediate release. Adam Braseel is a free man today.
Braseel has been represented by Burr & Forman partner Alex Little and associate Zachary Lawson. “This is an incredible and important day for Adam and his family. We can never forget, however, that there is another family grieving. But justice does not mean that an innocent man should spend 12 years in jail. In this country, our system of justice is imperfect. Adam has always maintained his innocence, and the facts bear that out. Today’s result was a small step in the right direction. I have been honored to represent Adam and look forward to his contributions to our community,” stated Little at the conclusion of today’s events.
Over the course of the proceedings, Braseel’s defense team presented extensive new evidence and testimony identifying another individual’s fingerprints at the crime scene and expert testimony about the unreliability of identification procedures. This evidence suggested that another individual, whose prints were found by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to be at the crime scene, had committed the murder.
In 2007, Adam Braseel was convicted for the murder of Malcolm Burrows and has spent 12 years in jail – even though no physical evidence placed him at the scene of the crime – due to a case of mistaken identity.
Braseel’s conviction had been overturned once and a new trial was ordered by Circuit Judge Justin Angel on December 25, 2015. However, the state Court of Criminal Appeals overruled that decision 10 months later and sent Braseel back to prison.
In 2018, new fingerprint evidence and other exculpatory evidence came to light, which would have played a pivotal role in the jury’s verdict had it been presented at the original trial. In March 2019, the Grundy sheriff issued a statement stating his belief that Braseel deserves a new trial due to the new physical evidence and the “absolute travesty” of how the initial investigation was carried out.
At a hearing on Wednesday, June 26, a witness testified that Kermit Eugene Bryson confessed to the murder, and the responding officer testified that records regarding the investigation that were used to convict Braseel were inaccurate. The hearing resumed today, August 2 with new testimony, which resulted in the murder charges being dropped.
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