Prosecutors drop murder charges as Maryland man is exonerated after nearly 17 years in prison

State's Attorney for Baltimore City Marilyn Mosby launched a conviction integrity unit after taking office in 2015. Prosecutors dismissed charges against David Morris after determining he was wrongly convicted in 2005.

(CNN)David Morris has spent almost 17 years in prison for a murder that he didn't commit.

On Wednesday, a judge threw out his conviction following a review of evidence that determined Morris was wrongfully charged and found guilty in 2005, according to the Office of the State's Attorney for Baltimore City.
      Baltimore Circuit Judge Charles Peters granted prosecutors' request to throw out Morris' old conviction after the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project (MAIP) brought the case to the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU). The unit began a re-investigation in 2018, ultimately finding Morris should not have been convicted, according to the state's attorney's office.
        "This case exemplifies the deeply damaging nature of the historical failures of the criminal justice system and our duty as prosecutors to address the wrongs of the past," said State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby. "On behalf of the state, let me extend my sincerest apologies to Mr. Morris and his family for the unspeakable trauma inflicted upon him as a result of this wrongful conviction."
          Morris, 18 years-old at the time, had been identified on the scene of the 2004 murder of Mustafa Carter and arrested by a police officer, who was one of the key witnesses, according to State's Attorney for Baltimore City director of communications Zy Richardson.
          Morris was convicted in 2005 and was sentenced to life suspended all but fifty years, according to the state's attorney's office.
          The CIU investigation concluded that an additional suspect other than Morris had been identified and investigated before Morris' trial, but this was not disclosed to his defense attorneys, nor was the fact that the arresting officer had a previous misconduct finding, according to the state's attorney's office.
          "That police officer was much later convicted of various crimes relating to fraud and placed on our 'Do Not Call' list, a list that we published last week, where we believe the officer is no longer credible to call as a witness in any case," Richardson said.
          In addition, the CIU investigation found that DNA on the victim's pants did not match Morris, and statements of the only identifying witness were contradictory.
          The investigation found "crime scene analysis, additional witnesses and attendant circumstances strongly suggests Mr. Morris was not involved when considered under a totality of circumstances," the state's attorney's office said.
          Morris is the 11th person the CIU has exonerated for offenses that they did not commit, according to the state's attorney's office. In 2019, three Baltimore men who each spent 36 years in prison were released after authorities said they were falsely convicted of a 1983 murder.
          "To the family of Mr. Carter, we will continue to use everything in our arsenal to find your son's killers. Our support networks stand ready to help everyone involved through their long and necessary journey of healing," Mosby said.
            "We're extremely gratified that the CIU's investigation confirmed the results of the University of Baltimore Innocence Project Clinic (UBIPC)/MAIP investigation into Mr. Morris's case," said Michele Nethercott, Of Counsel at MAIP and former director of UBIPC.
            "The evidence at his trial was incredibly weak, and our post-conviction investigation unearthed even more evidence supporting his longstanding claim of innocence. We're grateful to Mr. Carter's family for assisting in the investigation despite the pain it must have caused, and we want to thank all former staff, students, and colleagues for their hard work. I look forward to seeing Mr. Morris as a free man later today," Nethercott said.