Police Detectives Accuse Of Forging Evidence In Murder Case

There has been a marked uptick in the number of Americans cleared of significant charges since 1989, with allegations of prosecutorial or police wrongdoing tainting more than half of these instances. Professionals contend that wrongdoings such as concealed evidence, misleading testimony, pressured confessions, and defective verdicts seldom result in the wrongdoers being punished.

If three former Philadelphia police detectives are not acquitted due to purported errors by the office of District Attorney Larry Krasner, their imminent perjury trial may serve as an exception. The ex-detectives Frank Jastrzembski, Manuel Santiago, and Martin Devlin have petitioned the court to drop the charges. Judgment is expected from the judge by April.

Krasner indicted the three in the 1993 case of exoneree Anthony Wright, who had been found guilty of the rape and murder of an elderly widow in 1991.

The investigators’ testimony at his 2016 retrial reopened a five-year statute of limitations for perjury charges. When Wright was twenty years old, he had already dropped out of school in seventh grade. After twenty years behind bars, DNA evidence seemed to exonerate him. But Krasner’s predecessor decided to try him again and reactivated the detectives.

The investigators rejected Wright’s confession, which his attorneys said was forced. Devlin said he had written the nine-page confession “word for word” in 1991, but during a heated courtroom confrontation, Wright’s lawyer Sam Silver demanded that Devlin write in real-time for the court. The investigator gave up after failing to scribble down more than six words.

Krasner, a criminal justice reform attorney and human rights activist, assumed office in 2018 while the trial testimony was still admissible. Up to this point, he has spearheaded forty exonerations and pursued a handful of instances involving police perjury, sometimes amid ongoing investigations. In 2021, just days before the five-year deadline passed, he filed charges against the Wright detectives.