District of Columbia
Victims of the State

8 Cases

 Washington, DC

Ziang Sung Wan

Jan 29, 1919

Ziang Sung Wan, a Chinese NYU student, was convicted of the murder of Ben Sen Wu, an undersecretary of the Chinese Educational Mission. Wu was murdered along with two other members of the Mission, Dr. Theodore T. Wong and C. H. Hsie. Wan was sentenced to death. In 1926, Wan's conviction was vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court because the government failed to show that his confession to the crime was voluntary and the testimony of its own witnesses indicated the contrary. Jurors in two later trials refused to reconvict Wan and the indictment against him was dropped.  (Archives) (MOJ) (Wan v. U.S.) (NY Times)  [7/05]

 Washington, DC

Sisson & Sullivan

Sept 20, 1922

Robert W. Sisson and Maurice J. Sullivan were convicted along with Earle D. Dean of assaulting James R. Keeton and Judson L. Powers. Keeton and Powers worked as electricians for the Pullman Company at Union Station. They had applied for membership in the electrician's union, but before they could be admitted a strike broke out and practically all union men walked out. Keeton and Powers, however, continued to work.

One night about midnight as the two were nearing their rooming house on Brentwood Road, NE, they were attacked by a group of seven or eight men. Both were beaten severely, especially Keeton. The two identified Sisson, Sullivan, and Dean as men who were among their assailants. Some time after the three's convictions, Dean named seven men and said that they and himself were the men who had assaulted Keeton and Powers and that Sisson and Sullivan had had nothing to do with it. All seven men pleaded guilty, but got off much more lightly in the matter of sentences than had Sisson and Sullivan. On July 12, 1924, President Calvin Coolidge pardoned Sisson and Sullivan, who had spent over a year and a half in the Lorton reformatory.  (CTI)  [11/10]

 Washington, DC

DC Three

Nov 1, 1974

Michael Damien, Joseph Nick Sousa, and Joseph Wayne Eastridge were convicted of the stabbing murder of Johnnie Battle. The crime occurred outside the Godfather Supper Club at 4934 Wisconsin Ave. NW on the night of Nov. 1, 1974. The three defendants had attended a birthday celebration for the president of the Pagan Motorcycle Club (PMC). It was Sousa and Eastridge's first PMC event. Following the event, a group of bikers got into a brief altercation with three black males. Two of the blacks returned, and one of them, Johnnie Battle, opened fire on the bikers, seriously wounding one. In response, several of the bikers chased down Battle and stabbed him to death. The three defendants came to the attention of police because they were unfamiliar with the area and had inadvertently circled the block. Police, arriving at the scene, stopped their car at a time when the other bikers had dispersed.

The convictions were based upon the testimony of Sousa's ex-girlfriend, Dorothy Willetts. Centurion Ministries tracked down witnesses and found the three were not involved. Damien and Sousa were paroled in 1995 and Eastridge was paroled in 2005. In a 2005 hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer exonerated the three. She declared, “The Court finds that this is the rare case in which petitioners can prove their actual innocence of the crime charged as well as violations of their constitutional rights at trial.”  (CM)  [2/07]

 Washington, DC

Bradford Brown

Nov 2, 1974

Bradford Brown was convicted of the shooting murder of Rodney Frazier. The crime happened at 1601 W Street SE. A witness, Margaret Holton, saw the killer and would later testify that it was Brown. “I am sure of this guy's face,” said Holton. “I will never forget that face.” Holton lived with Frazier's father and other witnesses from the Frazier neighborhood corroborated her identification. Later investigation by Washington Police Detective Robert Kanjian determined that another man, Richard Harris, had committed the crime. Brown was released and cleared of the conviction in 1979.  (News Article)  [11/08]

 Washington, DC

Edward Green

July 3, 1987

Edward Green was convicted of rape after being identified by a rape victim. Green also had a blood type that was consistent with the victim's assailant. DNA tests exonerated Green in 1990.  (IP) (CBJ)  [9/06]

 Washington, DC

Anthony Bragdon


Anthony E. Bragdon was convicted of assault with intent to rape Coranda Farmer. Bragdon was released on parole in the summer of 2002 after serving 10 years in prison. His conviction was overturned in March 2003 because FBI forensic technician, Michael Malone, had falsely testified that carpet fibers he found on the alleged victim's clothing were traceable to Bragdon's apartment.  (FJDB) (Bragdon v. Malone)  [7/05]

 Washington, DC

Jay Lentz

Apr 23, 1996

(Federal Case)  Thirty-one-year-old Doris Faye Lentz disappeared on Apri1 23, 1996 after telling a friend she was driving from her Arlington, VA home to pick up her 4-year-old daughter, Julia, at her ex-husband's home in Fort Washington, MD. Her ex-husband, Jay E. Lentz was a naval intelligence officer. Doris was once an aide to Senator James Sasser of Tennessee. Doris's blood spattered automobile was found a week after her disappearance in southeast Washington, DC. Federal prosecutors suspected Jay murdered her. They did not have sufficient evidence to bring murder charges against him as there was no body, no weapon, no eyewitnesses, and no crime scene.
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 Washington, DC

Joseph Heard


Joseph Heard who is deaf, mute, and mentally impaired, was jailed in 1999 on a trespassing charge from a year earlier even though a judge had previously freed him. Prison officials then lost track of his records and he was not freed until 670 days later. In July 2005, he was awarded $1.1 million for his wrongful imprisonment. His settlement could grow to $1.55 million as he has a case against the prison's medical care contractor who allegedly administered psychotropic drugs to him without his consent.  [9/05]