Wrongly convicted Batesville man, free 16 years, to be paid

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — John Randall Alexander, freed 16 years ago after being convicted of murder and spending six years in jail, says he soon will be compensated for those lost six years.

The 49-year-old Batesville man told The Clarion-Ledger that he and the state signed an agreement last week that he’s qualified for the state’s wrongly convicted compensation fund.

Alexander says the attorney general’s office told him he was eligible to receive $281,000.

“The Circuit Court of Panola County overturned the conviction, and the district attorney dismissed the charges. The state has agreed that the claim meets the requirements of the law and we are submitting it to the Legislature for compensation,” said Jan Schaefer, spokeswoman for the state attorney general’s office.

Alexander’s 1989 conviction was based largely on the testimony of a couple who later recanted.

“I have proven my innocence,” Alexander said. “I don’t know why they lied on me.”

A new trial was ordered, but Alexander was never retried. Last year, a circuit judge dismissed the charge with prejudice, meaning it can never be brought again.

Schaefer said 29 claims for wrongful conviction compensation have been filed since the law was enacted in 2009. Of the 29, 12 have been submitted, 14 are under review or being contested, and the remaining three were dismissed because they didn’t meet requirements, according to the attorney general’s office.

A detailed list of the cases was unavailable, but four other men have been approved for compensation: Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks, both of Noxubee County, Arthur Johnson of Sunflower County and Cedric Willis of Hinds County.

Brewer spent 15 years in prison, part of it on death row, in the 1992 rape and murder of his former girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter. DNA tests proved his innocence in February 2008.

Brooks served 18 years for the rape and murder of a 3-year-old girl.

Johnson was convicted of a 1993 rape and sentenced to 55 years. He served 16 years.

Willis was convicted in 1997 of murdering Carl White Jr. and robbing White’s wife and daughter. He was sentenced to life plus 99 years, but was exonerated in 2006 after serving 12 years.

Rob McDuff, an attorney for all four, said each will collect up to $50,000 a year for 10 years.

The money can never repay what was taken from the men, but it can help them try to rebuild their lives, McDuff has said.