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Ex-death row inmate can keep $14M award

Dec. 21, 2008 at 3:59 PM   |   Comments

NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- A former death row inmate says he's grateful and relieved a $14 million judgment against Louisiana prosecutors has been retained upon appeal.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that John Thompson, who spent 14 years on Louisiana's death row awaiting execution for a 1984 murder, will be able to retain the $14 million he was awarded from by a jury last year, The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans reported.

"The 5th Circuit stood up and said, 'No, we will not stand for this,'" Thompson told the newspaper by telephone this weekend.

A jury ordered the Orleans Parish district attorney's office to give Thompson $1 million for each of the years he spent on death row for the murder of hotel executive Ray Liuzza during a 1984 New Orleans holdup -- a conviction for which he was later acquitted.

Thompson's defense team learned that an assistant to a former district attorney had confessed while dying of cancer that he had suppressed a lab report exonerating Thompson.

A spokeswoman for District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said he not reviewed the 5th Circuit's full opinion and planned to meet with attorneys who have been handling the Thompson case, The Times-Picayune reported.

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