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He's Out of Jail After Podcast Listeners Worked as One

Edward Ates spent 20 years in prison for a murder, despite no physical evidence
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2019 9:45 AM CDT
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(Newser) – Edward Ates isn't exonerated, but he is free on parole, and he's got a small army of people trying to help him clear his name. Texas Monthly tells the tale: Ates spent 20 years in prison for the 1993 murder of a female neighbor, Elnora Griffin, even though prosecutors had no forensic evidence to tie him to the crime. He insists he's innocent, and the story goes into detail poking holes into the various pieces of circumstantial evidence that prosecutors in Smith County, Texas, used to convict him. A big part of the story, however, is how a weekly crime podcast called Truth & Justice picked up on Ates' case, with the audience "basically crowdsourcing" their own investigation, writes Michael Hall. Podcast creator Bob Ruff would post documents online, ask for help—and get it.

"A serologist examined data from a 1993 report on blood found under Griffin’s fingernails and said she thought there were two different types," writes Hall. "When Ruff needed help figuring out who had a certain unlisted phone number, a listener volunteered to go to the Kilgore city library and pore over old phone directories." And so on. The upshot was by the time the Innocence Project of Texas picked up the case in 2016, much of the investigative grunt work already was done. Ates subsequently received a quick parole approval, and now the longer fight for exoneration continues. He is home with his wife and two grown children, having missed their entire childhoods. Read the full story, in which one of the original prosecutors now says he's willing to help Ates. (Read more Longform stories.)

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