Shining a Light on the Past to Secure a Man’s Freedom, Future

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Ricky WarnerA Morgan Lewis team helped Ricky Warner walk out of Louisiana’s infamous Angola State Penitentiary a free man after spending 35 years in prison due to a wrongful first-degree murder conviction in  1987.

Here’s the backstory: After a victim was shot and killed in 1985 during a dice game on the streets of New Orleans, a key witness told police that he did not see the shooting and could not identify the perpetrator. But seven months later, Ricky was arrested and charged with the murder. At trial, the key witness’s story took a dramatic turn. He testified that he saw another man hand a gun to Ricky and witnessed Ricky shoot the victim.

The inconsistency between the initial account and the later testimony was not discovered until earlier this year, when the prosecutors finally turned over files they had been ordered to produce more than 20 years ago. The files included notes from the prosecutors confirming that the witness had been unable to identify the shooter when initially interviewed by police.

After hearing from our Morgan Lewis team, a judge overturned the conviction, freeing Ricky in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday—on which he would be particularly thankful.

Read more about Ricky’s story in Law360.