A man who spent nearly nine years in prison after being convicted of killing a taxi driver was released on Friday, after the Kaohsiung branch of the Taiwan High Court ordered a retrial, ruling that new evidence called his conviction into question.
In May 2007, a taxi driver was shot with a handgun at close range in Kaohsiung’s Fengshan District (鳳山). A street surveillance camera captured a blurred image of a man with long hair and two witnesses who might have seen the suspect’s face.
Police asked a sketch artist to draw a portrait of the suspect and five months later a female masseuse in the area said Lin Chin-kuei (林金貴), 48, resembled the picture, and he was taken in for questioning.
In 2015, Lin’s elder sister found a photograph taken in March 2007 of Lin with short hair.
Expert witnesses said it was impossible for Lin’s hair to grow enough to resemble the man in the sketch in only two months.
The defense also noted that Lin had passed a polygraph test during the investigation.
Photo: Copy by Huang Liang-chieh, Taipei Times
After walking out of Tainan Prison, where he served 3,116 days of a life sentence, Lin spoke about his ordeal at a news conference organized by the Taiwan Association for Innocence, a judicial reform organization that fights against wrongful convictions.
“I was found guilty because the investigation was conducted in an unscientific manner and the judges made their ruling based on their own personal opinions. Because of that, I wasted nearly nine year’s in jail,” Lin said.
“The day before, when they told me that the guards wanted to speak to me, I assumed they wanted to question me about something. When I learned I was being discharged, I looked up and thought I would no longer see the ceiling of my jail cell. Then my mind went blank; it felt like I was in a daydream,” he said.
Photo: Copy by Huang Liang-chieh, Taipei Times
Lin’s lawyer Tsai Ching-yu (蔡晴雨), along with Lin’s elder sister Lin Yu-fang (林玉芳) and Taiwan Association for Innocence director Law Bing-cheng (羅秉成), have campaigned for years to emphasize inconsistencies in his trial.
“Some years ago when I began working on the case, I found numerous flaws in it. However, the judges deemed evidence that favored Lin unimportant,” Tsai said. “While working on Lin’s defense, I also found many dark sides to a number of possibly wrong convictions. All letters written by inmates are checked ... so inmates worried about receiving unfair treatment and most of them gave up fighting their cases.”
“We have been doing our best to save my brother’s life. The investigation and the trial in which he received a life sentence were done in a sloppy way and were full of errors. I want to ask the judges, did you gather and review all the evidence? They did not have solid evidence, yet they found him guilty and put him in jail for life. It has caused pain and misery for all my family,” Lin’s sister said.
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