Tuesday March 24, 2015

'I'm ashamed.' Former Louisiana prosecutor apologizes to man he put on death row

Former Louisiana prosecutor Marty Stroud apologises to Glenn Ford, who was on death row for 30 years.

Former Louisiana prosecutor Marty Stroud apologises to Glenn Ford, who was on death row for 30 years. (The Shreveport Times)

Listen 10:49

Sometimes, apologies take time. This one took more than thirty years. 

In a letter to the Shreveport Times, former Louisiana prosecutor Marty Stroud apologized for his role in convicting Glenn Ford of murder and sending him to death row for 30 years. 

Click the 'listen' button above to hear our interview with Marty Stroud.

In 1983, Marty Stroud was a young, ambitious Louisiana prosecutor. He tells As It Happens host Carol Off he saw himself, "..on the side of right and justice...bent on doing justice as I saw it."

"In 1984, I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning." - Former prosecutor Marty Straud

That commitment to seeing justice done meant assuring the conviction of Glenn Ford. The black man was accused of shooting a Shreveport jeweller. Stroud's prosecution led to a death sentence -- that would send Ford to the electric chair. As a lawyer, Stroud was ruthless and effective. Despite circumstantial evidence and unreliable witness testimony, Ford was convicted of the murder and sentenced to die by an all-white jury.

Glenn Ford, who was released after spending 30 years on death row in Louisiana for murder

Glenn Ford was released after spending 30 years on death row in Louisiana for murder. New evidence came to light proving he was not the killer. (The Shreveport Times)

Looking back now, Stroud says, "The ends justified the means. I didn't stop to think about the consequences. I never stepped back and said, 'You're trying to kill someone in the name of justice. Is that right?'

Last year, Glenn Ford was released from death row after new evidence came to light proving he was not the killer. Ford is seeking compensation from State of Louisiana for his wrongful imprisonment, but so far the State has refused to pay.

Reflecting on the miscarriage of justice and his own role in it, Marty Straud felt he could no longer remain silent. He wrote an emotional letter to the Shreveport Times newspaper. Here is an excerpt:

In 1984, I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgemental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning. To borrow a phrase from Al Pacino in the movie "And Justice for All," "Winning became everything."

How totally wrong was I.

I speak only for me and no one else.

I apologize to Glenn Ford for all the misery I have caused him and his family.

I apologize to the family of Mr. Rozeman for giving them the false hope of some closure.

I apologize to the members of the jury for not having all of the story that should have been disclosed to them.

Click here to read Marty Stroud's entire letter to the editor of the Shreveport Times.

Although Glenn Ford was finally released last year, he may not have long to live. He's been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. 

Former prosecutor Marty Stroud has a few simple wishes for Glenn Ford:

"I want Glenn Ford to be compensated. I want him to have happy days, joyful days, which he didn't have for 30 years. I want his case to have meaning. I believe there is a special place in heaven for people like Glenn Ford who have suffered so much on this earth as a result of the injustices of the system."

UPDATE (July 1, 2015): Glenn Ford died Monday, June 29, of lung cancer. He was 65. He never publicly forgave Marty Stroud.