Woman Freed After 43 Years in Jail for Wrongful Murder Conviction

Hemme, who had pleaded guilty to capital murder to avoid the death penalty, had her conviction overturned on appeal and was retried in 1985.
Prisoner in cell
Prisoner in cellGoogle photo


Sandra "Sandy" Hemme, a 63-year-old from the United States, has been released after spending over 40 years in prison for a murder she did not commit. 

Hemme was convicted in 1985 for the 1980 murder of Patricia Jeschke, a library worker in St. Joseph, Missouri, based on statements she made while a psychiatric patient. The Guardian reports that a judge has recently overturned her conviction, citing "clear and convincing" evidence of her innocence.

Livingston County Circuit Judge Ryan Horsman ruled that evidence now connects the murder to Michael Holman, a local police officer who was later imprisoned for another crime and has since died. Hemme's legal team, including the Innocence Project, presented this evidence, showing that her initial conviction was based on flawed and contradictory statements she made under severe psychiatric distress.

Hemme, who had pleaded guilty to capital murder to avoid the death penalty, had her conviction overturned on appeal and was retried in 1985.

However, the conviction was again based on her inconsistent and factually impossible confessions. Her attorneys filed a 147-page petition highlighting the ignored inconsistencies in her statements and the failure of authorities to disclose exculpatory evidence.

At the time of the crime, Hemme was 20 years old and undergoing treatment for severe mental health issues, including auditory hallucinations and drug use. Her history of psychiatric care began at age 12. Judge Horsman ordered her release within 30 days unless prosecutors chose to retry the case, marking the end of the longest-known wrongful conviction of a woman in U.S. history.

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