After spending over 40 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Robert Carroll Coney is a free man.
In 1962, Coney was convicted of armed robbery of a Safeway supermarket. Coney maintained his innocence but to no avail. He was sentenced to life.
Finally, State District Judge David Wilson was convinced to take another look into the case, and what he found was absolutely revolting. The sheriff of Angelina County at the time and his deputies used physical force to extract confessions, often crushing prisoners' fingers between jail cell bars.
When asked about this behavior on the part of the sheriff, Coney held up two twisted and bent fingers. Coney, in addition to mangling his hand, had his life threatened and scare tactics were used to extract a confession. Judge Wilson's findings suggest that Coney probably did not have proper legal counsel.
"I remember the sheriff well," Coney said.
Coney's identity had been confused with a man he had carpooled with through Lufkin on the day of the robbery. It really contains everybody's worst fears about what went on during certain darker years in this country," said Huntsville attorney David P. O'Neill, who worked on Coney's case.
When he was asked what his plans were, Coney, holding his wife's hand, simply said, We're going home.
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