I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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The strange tale of Margo Freshwater (part 1 of several)

A couple of weeks ago, the Tennessee Court of Appeals granted a new trial for a conviction over forty years old.  Margo Freshwater showed that the prosecution had withheld exculpatory evidence before her 1969 murder trial.  When she raised this issue, first the local court ruled she’d waited too long; it got reversed.  On remand the local court ruled the evidence wouldn’t have led to a different reversed and she lost again.  That got reversed for applying the wrong standard.  On the third try, the trial court refused to give her relief again, and got reversed yet again, with the case being sent back for her to have a new trial.

The District Attorney’s office says that they will try her again.

And that’s far from the most remarkable part of this story– there are so many parts to it that it’s difficult to say were to begin.  Actually, the problem is that this involves several different stories, one after the other:  A bizarre multi-state crime spree, a dramatic prison escape followed by decades on the lam, capture thanks to newly revived interest through the tv show America’s Most Wanted, and then the latest round of multiple appeals while Freshwater waits for a new trial in a Tennessee prison.

This story is told on the web from a lot of different perspectives.  The Memphis Commercial Appeal has a deep archive of photos and stories about the original trial, and has followed it each step of the way.  The Nashville Scene and Memphis Flyer ran a long run-through when Freshwater was rearrested in 2002 (having escaped prison in 1970), and there was a national coverage of that such as this Los Angeles Times story.  The family she’d raised for years in Ohio while under another name has a web page about their effort to obtain a new trial.

More about this in later posts…..


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