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9th Circuit Overturns Murder Conviction

Frank Gable v. Max Williams Docket: 19-35427, Opinion Date: September 29, 2022. Petitioner was convicted of the murder of an Oregon Department of Corrections Director. However, since trial, another man has confessed to the killing and nearly all the witnesses who directly implicated Petitioner have recanted their testimony. Petitioner sought federal habeas relief making various claims including constitutional violations based on the trial court’s exclusion of the other man's confession. The constitutional claims are procedurally defaulted because Petitioner failed to raise them in state court as required. The Ninth Circuit held that Petitioner's procedural default is excused under the “actual innocence” exception set forth in Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298 (1995). The panel wrote that other man's detailed and compelling confessions, when considered with the recantations of nearly all the State’s key witnesses, are more than sufficient to satisfy Schlup’s standard, as it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have convicted Petitioner in light of the new evidence. Reaching the merits of Petitioner's claim, the Ninth Circuit found that the trial court violated his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by excluding evidence of the confessor's guilt.

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