(LibertySociety.com) – A Maryland man was awarded $340,000 in a settlement for spending five years of his life behind bars for a murder he did not commit. Demetrius Smith was released from prison in 2013, nearly a year and a half after a Maryland U.S. Attorney charged the real murderer.
Maryland Governor Wes Moore, who also chairs the Board of Public Works, issued a formal apology from the state to Smith during a recent hearing. Moore noted that it had been 10 years since Smith was released from prison and that the settlement and apology was “long overdue justice.” He added that no one from the state has ever apologized to Smith for wrongfully charging him based on scant evidence.
Prosecutors who were hellbent on getting a murder conviction relied on testimony from a single witness to accomplish their goal, but that testimony was ultimately proven to be false. The witness was not at the scene of the crime when it occurred. Smith was also arrested for assault while he was out on bail awaiting his trial for the murder charge. He never pleaded guilty to the assault but instead entered an Alford plea, conceding that he would likely be found guilty. The witness who claimed he was the perpetrator eventually recanted their testimony. Smith received a sentencing modification in 2013 after petitioning the court.
In 2018, Troy Allen Lucas was sentenced to two life sentences in prison, along with ten additional years for the murder. Lucas was a gang member who accepted money and cocaine to murder Robert Long. He was a cooperating witness who was assisting law enforcement in solving several cases. Jose Joaquin Morales had already been convicted in 2013 for setting up the murder-for-hire and was sentenced to life in prison. Governor Moore told Smith that he knows that “no amount of money can make up for what was taken from you.” He expressed remorse that the justice system failed Smith on two different occasions.
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