Prisoner on death sentence freed 30 years after wrong conviction

March 1, 2024

1.6 min readCategories: News


After spending 30 years behind bars, Daniel Gwynn, a 54-year-old man from Philadelphia who was convicted and sentenced to death for a 1994 arson murder in West Philadelphia, has been released.

According to CBS News, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office decided to throw out the case and drop all charges against Gwynn.

Gwynn was accused of setting fire to an abandoned building on Chester Street, resulting in the tragic death of Marsha Smith.

The DA’s office stated that Gwynn’s conviction was based on unreliable witness testimony and a flawed confession obtained in 1994.

Moreover, although witnesses initially identified Gwynn as the perpetrator, the photo lineup used by the police was never presented as evidence during Gwynn’s trial, as per the DA’s office.

In addition to that, Gwynn’s photo was never in the lineup shown to witnesses.

Also, it turned out that the confession Gwynn gave to the police was factually inconsistent with how the fire started.

The DA’s office said the prosecution also suppressed evidence about an alternate suspect who the DA believes was the person responsible for Smith’s death.

“We think it was the right result,” David Napiorski, with the DA’s office, said. “This is a pretty crazy case. Mr. Gwynn has been in prison for 30 years for something we don’t have any confidence that he did. There was a lot of evidence that was undisclosed accidentally we believe that points to a compelling alternative suspect for this crime — a man who is himself is convicted of murder and serving a life sentence.”

Gwynn was released from prison shortly after 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday with his attorneys standing by his side.

“Today is mostly for us a day of tremendous relief and sadness, a guy like him, an innocent soul spent that amount of time waiting for his execution languishing in jail,” Gwynn’s defense attorney Karl Schwartz said.

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About the Author: Yetunde Ogunmola

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