New Orleans man exonerated on drug charge

Nov. 20, 2011 at 10:25 AM
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NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A hidden report contradicting police testimony in a 1999 drug trial could free a New Orleans man who has served 12 years of a life sentence, a judge said.

Eddie Triplett, 51, was sentenced to life as a four-time felon under Louisiana's habitual offender law after two officers say they spotted him stuffing a baggy of cocaine in his mouth. A police report by the two officers, Jeff Keating and Edgar Staehle, at the same time of arrest says it was a man by a different name they witnessed with the drugs, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Saturday.

U.S. District Court Judge Helen Berrigan threw out the conviction and sentence when it was discovered former District Attorney Harry Connick's office failed to turn over the report as evidence in the trial. She says the contradicting report indicates the two officers lied at the trial.

"In short, the testimony given by Officers Keating and Staehle at trial mirrored the police report in all aspects, except the crucial one -- the contemporaneous police report named Michael Cola as the person detained, not Eddie Triplett," Berrigan wrote in a statement.

The Innocence Network has reported that 10 people have been exonerated due to the discovery of Brady violations. Triplett's release date has not be set.

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