In a lengthy decision announced from the bench on October 8, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Rose Marie Defino-Nastasi granted a new trial for KRMF clients Eugene Gilyard and Lance Felder. Both men have been in prison since 1998, when they were arrested and convicted for the 1995 murder and robbery of a North Philadelphia bar owner.
As reported during the litigation of a post-conviction petition, Gilyard and Felder have maintained their innocence since the time of their arrest. Their claim for a new trial was based on the written statement of another man–in prison for a separate murder–that he committed the crime and that Gilyard and Felder are innocent.
In light of this new evidence and other corroborating facts uncovered by investigators working with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, Judge Defino-Nastasi concluded that a jury could be persuaded to acquit both men.
Following the decision, the District Attorney’s Office must decide whether it will appeal to the Superior Court or retry Gilyard and Felder.
Gilyard and Felder are represented by KRMF lawyers David Rudovsky and Jules Epstein, along with Marissa Boyers Bluestine of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. Charlotte Haldeman-Whitmore was co-counsel before recently leaving the Innocence Project.
For more information on the decision, see the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia City Paper and both this blog series and this press release from the Innocence Project.