LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Fourteen years after his conviction, a Louisville man has a clean criminal record, but it could have been a very different outcome. Tuesday, a Jefferson Circuit Court judge overturned Edwin Chandler's conviction, but WAVE 3 found that he was the only man wrongfully convicted by the same prosecutor.
When Chandler went to trial in 1995, Steve Schroering was an Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney and the lead prosecutor in the case.
"Circumstantial evidence was strong and then there was an admission on the part of Mr. Chandler that he had been involved," Schroering said. "So on a personal level, I was certainly comfortable going forward with the prosecution."
But new evidence, including an unmatched fingerprint on a beer bottle, cleared Chandler of the crime Tuesday, 16 years later.
"I was very surprised when I heard the news that new evidence had turned up in the case that exonerated him," Schroering said.
One of the twists in the Chandler case was that despite maintaining his innocence, he did confess while in police custody. That confession is something that has since come under scrutiny.
"Generally, you don't have somebody confess to a horrible crime when they didn't do it," said Schroering, who also said having a suspect recant a confession isn't unusual. "In this particular case I didn't and don't have any reason to believe the police acted improperly."
Edwin Chandler's defense attorney, Don Major, isn't so sure.
"We are not left with much in the way of conclusions as to why a person would give that statement other then it was under an impermissible amount of pressure," Major said.
Major said he always felt the guilty verdict on a manslaughter charge for such a violent crime was strange. Although Chandler spent nine years in prison as an innocent man, he could have faced a much worse fate.
"Thank God that death penalty was not a result of the trial because it might have been too late to reverse and apologize had the death penalty been imposed in this case," Major said.
Major told WAVE 3 he hopes this case spurs lawmakers and legal experts to take a closer look at the death penalty and legislation that dictates how police interrogations are conducted.