Wrongly Convicted Database Record


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Charles Lee Bufford



Murder and Robbery



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Judicially Exonerated Released

Summary of Case:

"Charles Bufford was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in 1978 for the robbery-murder of former state senator and Wilcox County probate judge Roland Cooper, Jr. On April 30, 1977, through an unofficial work release policy that permitted some private citizens in Wilcox County, Alabama, to “check out” prisoners to work at their private residences, 23-year-old Charles Bufford, who was serving a short sentence in the county jail for auto theft, was sent to work at the Cooper residence. Later that evening, Mr. Bufford was arrested for drunk driving while driving Mr. Cooper’s car. Mr. Cooper’s body was later discovered in his garden. At trial in 1978, the State introduced a statement in which Mr. Bufford told police that he had drunk six beers, lost his temper when Mr. Cooper began to curse him for planting corn incorrectly, and hit Cooper on the head with a garden tool, but that Cooper was alive when Bufford left. He was convicted of intentional killing during the course of a robbery on March 10, 1978, and sentenced to death on May 19, 1978. On appeal, Mr. Bufford’s case was reversed and remanded for a new trial after Alabama’s death penalty statute was reformed. At the retrial, the defense questioned a police officer about the destruction of a handwritten version of Mr. Bufford’s statement and argued that key portions of the statement had been left out of the typewritten version, including Mr. Bufford’s description of Cooper’s demeanor and actions. After a two-hour deliberation, a Wilcox County jury acquitted Mr. Bufford of all charges on November 12, 1981, and he was released. (Equal Justice Initiative)"

Conviction Caused By:

Innocence Proved By:

"Acquitted on November 12, 1981 after a retrial."

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Was Perpetrator Identified?

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Information Source 1:

"Alabama's Exonerated, Equal Justice Initiative"

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

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