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A Missouri Woman’s Murder Conviction was Reversed after 43 Years in Jail

A court has reversed the conviction of a Missouri woman who spent more than 43 years in jail for a murder that her advocates said was carried out by a now-discredited police officer. The lady may soon be released from prison. Sandra Hemme’s prison sentence, if it is disclosed, will be the longest known wrongful conviction of a woman in American history, according to her attorneys.

Missouri Woman’s Murder Conviction:

A Missouri woman who had spent 43 years in jail for confessing to a murder in 1980 when she had a mental health condition had her conviction overturned by a court, which also heard arguments from the woman’s attorneys that the murderer could have been a former police officer.

In a late-night decision on Friday, Judge Ryan Horsman said that Sandra Hemme, 64, had shown her actual innocence and that she may be freed in 30 days unless the prosecution decided to retry her in the killing of Patricia Jeschke, a 31-year-old library employee.

According to the judge, Hemme’s trial attorney was incompetent, and the prosecution withheld information that may have strengthened her case.

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According to Hemme’s lawyers, who filed a request calling for her quick release, this is the longest a woman has been imprisoned due to an incorrect conviction.

Her lawyers stated in a statement, “We are grateful to the Court for acknowledging the grave injustice Ms. Hemme has endured for more than four decades,” they promised to keep working to get the charges dropped so Hemme may be reunited with her family.

When Hemme was first questioned about Jeschke’s death, her attorneys claimed that she was wearing wrist restraints. They were so profoundly drugged that she “could not hold her head up straight” or “articulate anything beyond monosyllabic responses.”

In a petition for Hemme’s dismissal, the attorneys said that the authorities disregarded her “wildly contradictory” assertions and withheld information that linked Jeschke’s credit card attempt to then-police officer Michael Holman. 2015 saw Holman’s passing.

“No evidence outside of Ms. Hemme’s unreliable statements connects her to the crime,” the court ruled. The court stated, “On the other hand, this Court concludes that the evidence directly links Holman to this crime and murder scene.”

When Jeschke failed to show up for work on November 13, 1980, her worried mother broke through a window in her apartment and found her naked dead in a pool of blood on the floor. Jeschke had a telephone cable tied around her hands behind her back, pantyhose around her throat, and a knife beneath her skull.

Hemme was not being looked into the killing until she turned up at the residence of a nurse who had treated her while she was carrying a knife and would not go away over two weeks later.

Hemme was found by police hiding in a cupboard, and they returned her to St. Joseph’s Hospital. When she started hearing voices at the age of twelve, she ended up in the hospital many times. The day before Jeschke’s death was discovered, Hemme had been released from the same hospital and had hitched more than 100 miles across the state to go to her parent’s house that evening. Law authorities found the timing strange, and Hemme was later questioned.

When Hemme was initially questioned, antipsychotic medications were being administered to her, which had caused involuntary muscular spasms. Her eyes rolled back in her head according to her lawyers’ appeal. Hemme seemed “mentally confused” and unable to comprehend the questions that they were asking, according to the detectives.

“Every time the police obtained a statement from Ms. Hemme, it varied significantly from the previous one, frequently encompassing clarifications of details the police had recently discovered,” her legal representatives stated in the appeal. Eventually, Hemme claimed to have seen Joseph Wabski, a male, kill Jeschke.

Wabski and Hemme met while both were admitted to the state hospital’s detoxification unit. Wabski was first accused of capital murder, but the prosecution later withdrew the charges against him after they discovered Wabski was attending an alcohol treatment facility in Topeka, Kansas.

Hemme sobbed and said she was the murderer after discovering Wabski wasn’t the one who killed her. Holman was also beginning to be considered a suspect by the police. Holman was caught about a month after the murder for fabricating an insurance claim and reporting his pickup truck as stolen.

Holman’s alibi—that he slept the night with a lady at a nearby motel—could not be verified because the identical truck was observed close to the killing site. On the day that Jeschke’s death was found, Holman—who was eventually dismissed and passed away—also made an effort to use her credit card at a photography store in Kansas City, Missouri.

According to Holman, he discovered the credit card in a handbag abandoned in a ditch. Police searched Holman’s house and found a pair of gold horseshoe-shaped earrings in a cupboard that Jeschke’s father claimed he knew as his own. The police also discovered jewelry taken from another woman during a break-in earlier that year.

After that, the four-day probe into Holman came to a sudden stop, and Hemme’s lawyers said they were never given access to many of the findings. On Christmas Day 1980, Hemme wrote to her parents, suggesting that she might as well enter a guilty plea. Hemme wrote, “They want to put someone away, even though I’m innocent, so they can say the case is solved.” “Please, let it end,” she continued. “I’m worn out.” Hemme consented to admit guilt to capital murder the following spring in exchange for the death sentence being dropped. However, the judge first turned down her guilty plea because she did not provide enough information regarding the occurrence.

Her lawyer informed her that if the judge accepted her guilty plea, she would have a chance to escape receiving the death penalty. After a little break and guidance, she provided the court with further information.

Although the plea was eventually overturned on appeal, she was found guilty once more in 1985 following a day-long trial during which the jury was not informed of the specifics of what her present attorneys describe as “grotesquely coercive” questioning techniques. Larry Harman stated in her attorneys’ appeal that the system “failed her at every opportunity.” Previously, Harman, a judge, assisted Hemme in getting her first guilty plea overturned.

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