This Day in History: 1982-04-02

Lenell Geter, an aerospace engineer employed by military defense contractor E-Systems, Inc. in Greenville, TX, is falsely convicted of armed robbery of $615 from a Kentucky Fried Chicken (“KFC”) restaurant in Balch Springs, TX and sentenced to life in prison by an all white jury in an expedited trial, despite the testimony of nine co-workers and his supervisor that he was at work 50 miles away from the KFC at the time of the robbery. Following his conviction, Geter’s legal representation was taken over by the NAACP. There was a great deal of public attention and media focus on Geter’s case, including a feature episode of “60 Minutes.” His new attorneys succeeded in showing that some of the police testimony at trial was false and introduced additional evidence that he couldn’t have committed the crime. Geter’s conviction was overturned and, in December 1983, he was released from prison (after having served over 16 months) while awaiting his new trial, which was scheduled to begin on April 9, 1984. Instead of being retried, Geter’s indictment was dismissed on March 26, 1984. Geter’s experience of being wrongly convicted is more common than his exoneration approximately 2 years after conviction. Learn more.