New Orleans Man Exonerated After Spending 34 Years Behind Bars: District Attorney’s Office Apologizes
NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - 61-year-old Reginald Adams walked out of criminal court Monday surrounded by those who never gave up. After being convicted of murder twice and spending 34-years behind bars District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro is dismissing his case calling it, “intentional misconduct on the part of police and prosecutors.”
The conviction dates back to the murder of Cathy Ulfers at her New Orleans East home back in 1979.
Ulfers was the wife of an NOPD officer, and the daughter of a retired NOPD major. Cannizzaro says New Orleans homicide detectives and prosecutors intentionally concealed evidence favorable to Adams calling the handling of this case shameful.
“It is clear to me that Adams did not receive a fair trial and that if his attorneys had been in possession of this information three decades ago he would have likely been acquitted,” says District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro.
The District Attorney says in 1980 Adams was already in jail awaiting trial on an unrelated burglary charge when detectives spoke with him about Ulfers’ murder.
“Following a four-and-a-half hour interrogation in which Adams claims to have been given alcohol and narcotics, he made a taped confession. It is noteworthy that some of the claims made by Adams in the confession were inconsistent with the physical evidence,” explains Cannizzaro.
Furthermore, Cannizzaro says a murder weapon was found and traced to two suspects, but during the trial NOPD detectives testified, and prosecutors claimed no murder weapon was found and no additional suspects were ever named.
“To Mr. Adams I offer a sincere apology. I offer the apology both personally and on behalf of a much different sort of district attorney’s office than the office that prosecuted him nearly three decades ago and denied him the right to a fair trial,” says Cannizarro.
The Innocence Project of New Orleans has exonerated 24 wrongly convicted prisoners from Louisiana and Mississippi. Eight of those were teens when they were arrested.
Cannizzaro says we may never know who killed Cathy Ulfers. The two linked to the murder weapon have since died. At one time her husband, retired NOPD officer Ronald Ulfers, was a suspect. He was never charged, but years later he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life for the death of his second wife.