Based on the files of the lawyers who freed them, Wrongful Conviction features interviews with men and women who have spent decades in prison for crimes they did not commit – some of them had even been sentenced to death. These are their stories.
Jimmie C. Gardner was a Charleston minor league baseball player when he was accused of sexual assault in 1987. He grew up in Tampa, FL and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs just after high school graduation, playing with them in the minor leagues for four seasons. While playing in the minor leagues, he enrolled in college to study business management and worked part time at various locations around the Tampa Bay. In 1990, while still working towards his business degree, Jimmie Gardner was arrested and charged with robbing and raping a woman and physically assaulting her and her mother at a home in Kanawha City. Despite always maintaining his innocence, Mr. Gardner was put on trial and prosecutors used West Virginia State Trooper and Chief Serologist Fred Zain as the expert witness. Zain knowingly presented false testimony which resulted in Mr. Gardner's guilty verdict. Jimmie Gardner was convicted of two separate counts of robbery and sexual assault as well as burglary and assault-during-the-commission-of-a-felony and sentenced to 110 years in prison. Jimmie Gardner's case is one of over 140 cases from the late 1970’s through the 1980’s in which the state of West Virginia relied on falsified forensic evidence testimony by Chief Serologist Fred Zain in order to convict. It was not until April 1st, 2016, nearly 3 decades after the Chief Serologist was exposed—when Jimmie C. Gardner’s case was overturned and he was finally released after serving 26 years in prison. Since his release, Mr. Gardner has become an active motivational speaker and is in the process of establishing the Gardner House, a 48-bed facility dedicated to providing shelter, food and opportunities to people recently released from prison. Jimmie Gardner has told his story in public speaking gigs across the U.S. and advocates not only for those who have been wrongfully convicted, but for those who legally have been convicted and are working to get their footing in society after they leave prison. For more information on how to book Mr. Gardner, visit www.jcgardnerspeaks.com. In this episode, he is joined by his attorney A. Scott Bolden, Managing Partner of Reed Smith, Washington, DC and the Honorable Leslie J. Abrams, United States District Court Judge for the Middle District of Georgia.
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