Woman jailed in 1992 murder released, group says she was wrongfully-convicted

Laquanda Jacobs was released after serving 26 years in prison for the 1992 shooting death of Kevin Gaddy, 17, in Little Rock. (Photo courtesy: Arkansas Department of Correction)

A woman was released from jail after spending 26 years in prison for a murder the Midwest Innocence Project (MIP) says she did not commit.

Laquanda "Faye" Jacobs was jailed in the 1992 shooting death of Kevin Gaddy, 17, in Little Rock and was sentenced to life without parole. Video on MIP's Facebook page shows her release from the McPherson Women's facility in Newport on Tuesday.

MIP claims Jacobs' case "has all the hallmarks of a wrongful conviction — incentivized testimony, procedures known to lead to eyewitness misidentifications and absolutely inadequate counsel,” according to Tricia Bushnell, Executive Director of the MIP.

"Faye’s attorneys never investigated the crime and didn’t even ask the state for its files," Tricia continued. "As a result, they never spoke to five additional eyewitnesses who saw the crime and stated that Faye was not the shooter."

Jacobs, who was 16 when the crime occurred, was entitled to a new sentence after the United States Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that children cannot be given a mandatory sentence of life without parole and declared those who had could be entitled to a new hearing.

Jacobs was scheduled for a new hearing in September 2018, but in May, Lathrop Gage, LLP filed petition for writ of habeas corpus, asking the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas to overturn her conviction.

Before the state responded to the petition, the Pulaski County District Attorney's office agreed to resentence her to 40 years, which the state deemed she completed given her "good-time credit and exemplary conduct in prison for 26 years," according to MIP.

The case is not over. Although she is no longer in jail, to get the murder conviction off her record, Jacobs and her legal team plan to file a petition for clemency from Gov. Hutchinson.

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