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Oregon Man Freed From Prison Taking Steps Back Into Society February 3, 2010

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

Philip Scott Cannon wants people to know he didn’t leave prison on a technicality.
The Salem man recently won his freedom after spending more than 10 years behind bars for the fatal shootings of three people. Cannon, who always maintained he was wrongly convicted, was freed after prosecutors said key evidence needed for a retrial was unavailable. Cannon, 43, said it’s important for people to know his conviction was overturned based on flawed evidence used at his original trial.
“I’ve been getting a bunch of calls from people going on about how I was released on a technicality, and had the state not accidentally lost or destroyed evidence I would be reconvicted,” he told the Statesman Journal newspaper. “The reality is, the reason why the conviction was overturned is because the court determined that their key evidence was no good.”
Cannon was serving a life sentence for the deaths of Jason Kinser, Suzan Osborne and Celesta Graves. Each was shot once in the head at a mobile home in a rural area west of Salem in November 1998. No murder weapon was found. The case against Cannon largely was based on circumstantial evidence and forensic evidence from a technique called comparative bullet lead analysis. The technique was abandoned by the FBI in 2005 after it was discredited in a report by the National Academy of Sciences.
A judge overturned Cannon’s conviction in August after the Oregon attorney general’s office agreed with Cannon’s claim that he was entitled to a new trial because of the flawed forensic evidence. Cannon was transferred to the Polk County jail and prosecutors made plans to retry him. However, those plans were dropped when prosecutors couldn’t locate old evidence.
Cannon criticized Polk County officials for mishandling the evidence and shirking accountability.
“I think John Q. Public is getting a snow job right now,” he said. “Nobody wants to step up. I think the victims’ families should really be outraged at what they’re doing, and I think Oregon taxpayers ought to get a little more bang for their buck, rather than just a bunch of finger pointing.” Polk County District Attorney Stan Butterfield said in a written statement the case is “now an open murder investigation” and he will not comment.
Cannon said he’s been adjusting to life after prison since his Dec. 18 release. “Well, let’s see: I don’t have any kind of ID. I don’t have a driver’s license. I don’t have a job. I’ve got to pay back all the people who helped with my legal fees.”
Cannon said he plans to pursue a federal civil lawsuit and has a long-range plan to earn a college degree. For now, however, he enjoys making up for lost time with loved ones, including his 20-year-old son. “I’ve never been online or owned a computer,” Cannon said. “I’m pretty much a dinosaur.



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