Wrongly Convicted Database Record


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Payne Boyd



First Degree Murder


Life Imprisonment

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U.S. State or Country of Crime:

West Virginia

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Judicially Exonerated Released

Summary of Case:

"Payne Boyd was wrongly convicted of first-degree murder twice in 1925 and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a man in Mercer County, West Virginia in 1918. Boyd was charged with the murder in the spring of 1924 after being arrested in Richmond, Virginia for a minor charge. Boyd roughly matched the description of a man named Cleveland Boyd who was wanted for the 1918 murder, and four eyewitnesses identified Payne Boyd as being Cleveland Boyd. During Boyd's first trial in February 1925 Boyd's defense was he had been mistakenly identified because he lived in North Carolina and had never been in Mercer County before he was transported there for his trial. The four eyewitnesses identified Payne Boyd as Cleveland Boyd, while 31 witnesses for the defense testified Payne was not Cleveland Boyd. After Boyd's conviction his conviction was overturned by the trial judge on a technicality. After his retrial he was again convicted on May 2, 1925, and sentenced to life in prison. Boyd's conviction was set-aside on appeal and he was granted a change of venue to Huntington in Cabell County, West Virginia for his third trial. A fingerprint examiner with the Huntington Police Department became interested in Payne's claim of mistaken identify, and he compared his fingerprints with those of Payne Boyd on file with the War Department from his military service. He found that they were the same -- establishing that Payne Boyd was not Cleveland Boyd. The new fingerprint evidence was presented during Payne's retrial and on October 13, 1925 he was acquitted and released immediately after 18 months in custody."

Conviction Caused By:

"Eyewitness error. Mistaken identity, in spite of 31 witnesses testifying he wasn't Cleveland Boyd, the man who was known to be the killer."

Innocence Proved By:

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Was Perpetrator Identified?

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Information Source 1:

"Convicting the Innocent: Sixty-five Actual Errors of Criminal Justice, Edwin M. Borchard, The Justice Institute (Seattle, 2013), pp. 17-20."

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Information Source 2:

"“Miscarriages of Justice in Potentially Capital Cases,” Hugo Adam Bedau & Michael L. Radelet, Stanford Law Review, November, 1987, Vol. 40, p. 99."

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Innocents Database Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org

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