Mentally ill man who wore a Superman cape in police interviews, is cleared over 1979 murder

Mail Online | 8/22/2019 | Lauren Fruen For;Associated Press
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A mentally ill man who wore a Superman cape in police interviews, compared himself to Dracula and said he could cause hurricanes has been cleared of the 1979 murder of a college student after spending 30 years in prison.

Three judges ruled Thursday that James Blackmon, who is now 66-years-old and uses a wheelchair, is innocent in the death of Helena Payton.

Neck - Dormitory - Bathroom - St - Augustine

She was stabbed in the neck in a dormitory bathroom of what is now St. Augustine's University in Raleigh in September 1979.

No physical or witness evidence ever tied Blackmon to the crime so prosecutors relied on his confessions years after the case went cold, during which he wore the cape and made the bizarre claims.

Video - Recordings - Interrogations - Police - Detectives

Despite the video recordings of the interrogations with police detectives, both a trial court judge and the state Court of Appeals said he was competent to stand trial.

DNA evidence did not exist at that time and an analysis of fingerprints conducted years later found no prints that matched Blackmon although prints belonging to another man were found.

Ruling - Part - Process - North - Carolina

The ruling, which is final, came as part of the unique process under which the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission rules on innocence claims from convicted people and sends the cases it finds credible to a three-judge panel.

Prison officials said, following the exoneration, that they were working Thursday afternoon to release Blackmon, who was serving a life sentence for second-degree murder.

Blackmon - Person - Work - Commission - Claims

Blackmon is the 12th person exonerated through the work of the commission, which legislators established in 2006. More than 2,500 claims have been submitted to the commission since it began operations in 2007.

Blackmon, seated in a wheelchair and wearing orange-and-white striped inmate clothing, gave a slight smile as one of his attorneys spoke to him after the chief judge read the ruling...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Mail Online
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