Innocent Man Who Spent 30 Years On Death Row Met The Former Prosecutor Who Put Him There

Glenn Ford

An innocent man who spent more than 30 years on death row for a murder he didn't commit has come face-to-face with the prosecutor who put him there.

Glenn Ford, who was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer after his release last year, was too weak to stand when Marty Stroud walked into his Louisiana home last week but shook his hand.

'I want you to know that I am very sorry,' Stroud said during the somber meeting, which was filmed by Nightline. 'It's a stain on me that will be with me until I go to my grave.'

'Right,' Ford responded, without looking up. 'But it still cost me 31 years of my life and then nothing at the end but death because they give me from six to eight months to live.'

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Apology: Marty Stroud, left, visited Glenn Ford, right, at his home to apologize for putting him behind bars for 30 years for a murder he didn't commit. Ford was released from prison in Angola last yea

Face-to-face: The 65-year-old, who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer shortly after being freed from prison, shook the former prosecutor's hand as he walked into his home

'I'm sorry,' Ford added. 'I can't forgive you.'

Stroud, who wished Ford the best before leaving the home, had asked to meet the man after apologizing to him in a powerful letter published in The Shreveport Times last month.  

In the letter, Stroud admitted that he was to blame for mistakenly putting Ford behind bars for the fatal shooting of a jeweler, despite no murder weapon or witnesses placing him at the scene.

'In 1984, I was 33 years old,' he wrote. 'I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.' 

Stroud, 63, wrote the letter after the state ruled that Ford was not entitled to receive $330,000 in compensation for his time spent behind bars because he could not prove he did not know about the killing before it was carried out. 

'Glenn Ford should be completely compensated to every extent possible because of the flaws of a system that effectively destroyed his life,' Stroud wrote.

Struggle: Ford told Stroud that he could not forgive him for what he had done as a young lawyer

Pain: After Stroud left, Ford was overcome with emotion and was comforted by his carers, pictured

'The audacity of the state's effort to deny Mr. Ford any compensation for the horrors he suffered in the name of Louisiana justice is appalling.' 

Ford was accused of shooting Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport jeweler and watchmaker for whom Mr Ford had done occasional yard work, in 1983 and was convicted the following year. 

He was sent to prison, where he lived with little light or heat, while Stroud, who had been with the Caddo District Attorney's office for two years, went out to celebrate by having drinks with his team.

'That's sick,' he said in his letter. 'I had been entrusted with the duty to seek the death of a fellow human being, a very solemn task that certainly did not warrant any "celebration".' 

From behind bars, Ford continued to protest his innocence.

Then in 2013, State District Judge Ramona Emanuel voided the conviction and sentence based on an informant claiming that another man, Jake Robinson, had confessed to killing Rozeman.

Regrets: A.M. 'Marty' Stroud III, pictured, wrote a lengthy apology letter to Ford last month that was published in a local newspaper. In the letter, he also slammed the state for refusing to pay the man compensation

Robinson, along with his brother Henry, had been eyed by investigators in relation to the killing but have never been charged in Rozeman's death. They have since been indicted in other murders.

'My fault was that I was too passive,' Stroud said in his letter last month. 'Had I been more inquisitive, perhaps the evidence would have come to light years ago...

'I did not hide evidence, I simply did not seriously consider that sufficient information may have been out there that could have led to a different conclusion. And that omission is on me.' 

He added that the odds were stacked against Ford, whose attorneys were inexperienced in criminal law. Ford, who is black, also faced an all-white jury. 

'I apologize to Glenn Ford for all the misery I have caused him and his family,' Stroud wrote. 'I apologize to the family of Mr. Rozeman for giving them the false hope of some closure.'

Ford walked free from Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola on March 11, 2014, wearing a jean jacket, sweater and beanie hat and carrying all of his worldly possessions in two tiny boxes.

As he walked out of the prison gates, he said he was sad he had not been around to raise his now-adult sons, but added: 'It feels good; my mind is going in all kind of directions. It feels good.'  

Prison officials gave the then-64-year-old a debit card worth just $20. That, along with the money that he had in his bank account, left Mr Ford with a paltry $20.24 to his name.

 

Wrongly accused: Ford, a father-of-four (pictured in a booking photo), was sent to death row in 1984

Freed: Ford is pictured in March 2014 as he was freed from the state prison following 30 years behind bars. He was given just $20 but was taken in by a non-profit group who found a free place for him to stay

Making the days count: Ford, pictured earlier this year, relies on Social Security disability and food stamps. He is suing the state for denying him medical care for his lung cancer, which is now terminal

His lawyers set up an Amazon wishlist for strangers to donate funds and items - from furniture to clothing - so Ford could start to re-build his life, and he continues to accept donations.

With the help of a non-profit group, Resurrection After Exoneration, he had a place to live free of charge and has since moved to his own apartment. He relies on Social Security disability and food stamps, while volunteers help to take care of him. He has also visited California to see his four sons.

After he left prison, he learned he had Stage 3 lung cancer, which has now progressed to Stage 4.  

Ahead of the meeting with Stroud, he told Nightline he was shocked by Stroud's letter, but that he refused to get angry over his situation.

'I'm upset, yes, but it's not my driving force,' he said, too weak to even open his eyes. '[My driving force] is to get well as I possibly can. I can't do that being mad at Marty Stroud.'

 

 

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By Francis Pate 04/20/2015 15:03:00
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