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Michael Graham

Exoneree Name

State: Louisiana

Convicted: 1987

Exonerated: 2000

Race: Caucasian

DNA used in exoneration? No

Reasons for wrongful conviction:

Perjury or fase accusation

Prosecutorial misconduct


Michael's Wrongful Conviction

By the time Michael Graham was released from Louisiana’s death row at Angola in December 2000, he had spent half of his adult life – 14 years – behind bars. He was given a $10 check for transportation (bus fare cost $127 - his lawyer paid for it) and a state-issued denim jacket several sizes too large. He and his co-defendant, Albert Burrell, were accused of the murder of an elderly couple despite a lack of physical evidence and unreliable witnesses.

During their trial, the prosecution withheld key evidence and utilized three witnesses who later recanted their testimony. The chief witness, Olan Wayne Brantley, was known in the jail system as “Lyin’ Wayne.” A plea agreement was made between Brantley and the prosecution, even though Brantley had a record of mental instability. A judge noted that “the case against Mr. Graham and Mr. Burrell is so weak that it never should have been brought to the grand jury.”

Dismissing the charges, the attorney general's office cited a “total lack of credible evidence” and stated that “prosecutors would deem it a breach of ethics to proceed to trial.” DNA tests later proved that blood found at the victims’ home did not belong to Michael Graham or Albert Burrell. In light of the serious prosecutorial misconduct that put him on death row, Michael is making an effort not to be bitter about what happened. “I don’t like being angry,” he says. “I am, but I can keep it under control.”

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