Wrongly Convicted Database Record

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John Sosnovske

Years Imprisoned:





Life Imprisonment

Year Convicted:


Year Cleared:


Location of Trial:



Judicially Exonerated Released

Summary of Case:

"John Sosnovske was codefendant of his then girlfriend Laverne Pavlinac. Sosnovske falsely pled no contest to avoid being given the death penalty if convicted, after Pavlinac falsely confessed that the two of them strangled and disposed of the body of Taunja Bennett. She retracted her confession, claiming she made it to escape an abusive relationship with Sosnovske, but she was convicted after a trial - putting the onerous on Sosnovske to falsely plead no contest. Pavlinac and Sosnovske's false convictions were overturned when Keith Hunter Jesperson, known as the 'Happy Face Killer' for drawing smiley faces on letters taking credit for murders he committed, confessed to killing Bennett and gave details that could only be known by the killer. The FBI administered lie detector tests that indicated Jasperson was telling the truth he was the killer and that Sosnovske was telling the truth she was innocent. Four weeks after Jesperson's conviction of murdering Bennett, Judge Paul Lipscomb threw out Sosnovske's convictions, saying: "There's no longer any doubt that these two individuals are innocent. The evidence is compelling." (ICFFP, Chicago Tribune)"

Conviction Caused By:

Falsely pled no contest to avoid being given the death penalty after a trial, after Pavlinace falsely confessed to Bennett's murder.

Innocence Proved By:

Confession and conviction of actual killer.

Defendant Aided By:

Compensation Awarded:

Was Perpetrator Found?

Age When Imprisoned:


Age When Released:


Information Source 1:

""Innocent Couple Free From Prison: 'Happy Face Killer' Convicted of Murder," (AP) Chicago Tribune, Nov. 28, 1995."

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Information Source 2:

""Keith Hunter Jasperson: The Happy Face Killer, The Crime Library"

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Information Source 3:

""The Consequences of False Confessions, Richard Ofshe"

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