Lawyer of Newly Free Death Row Inmate: 'He Is Very Tired'

Walter Ogrod released after prosecutors decide he likely didn't kill 4-year-old Philly girl
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 6, 2020 5:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – A man who spent nearly three decades behind bars, most of them on death row, after he was convicted at his second trial of killing a 4-year-old girl in Philadelphia was released Friday after prosecutors concluded he very likely didn't do it. Walter Ogrod left death row and the State Correctional Institution-Phoenix hours after his charges were reduced and he was granted bail in the 1988 death of Barbara Jean Horn. His lawyer, James Rollins, said Ogrod's first stop would be a relative's backyard barbecue. "He was very pleased and relieved to be out of prison," Rollins said, per the AP. "He is very tired." Ogrod's lawyers say police coerced a false confession from him in the death of Barbara Jean, who his defense lawyers say may have died of asphyxiation and not blows to the head, as prosecutors argued at trial.

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A prosecutor apologized to Ogrod, 55, who still faces a small chance of a third trial, at a hearing Friday. "I'm sorry it took 28 years for us to listen to what Barbara Jean was trying to tell us: that you are innocent, and that the words of your statement of confession came from Philadelphia Police ... and not you," a prosecutor told Ogrod, per a release. They say that jailhouse informers fabricated statements from him, and that eyewitness accounts of a man who left the child's remains in a box don't match Ogrod's appearance. Prosecutors and Ogrod's lawyers agree there's no physical evidence linking him to Barbara Jean. Ogrod’s first trial ended in a mistrial when one juror announced he didn't agree with a not guilty verdict as the foreman was about to read it. He was convicted after a second trial in 1996 of first-degree murder and attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. He has spent most of the intervening years on death row.

(Read more death row stories.)

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