Australian state pardons man hanged for murder 86 years ago

May 27, 2008 08:37

An Australian governor gave a posthumous pardon Tuesday to a man hanged 86 years ago for the rape and murder of a young girl, after new research discredited the evidence used for his conviction. Colin Campbell Ross, who was hanged in 1922 at the age of 28, was pardoned Tuesday by Victoria state Gov. David de Kretser. Descendants of Ross and the 12-year-old victim, Alma Tirtschke, petitioned for the pardon. Prosecutors alleged that Ross, who ran a wine saloon in Melbourne, gave Tirschke alcohol before raping and strangling her on New Year's Eve 1921. The only physical evidence connecting him to the crime were hairs on a blanket; prosecutors said the hairs were Tirtschke's. While witnesses gave alibis for Ross, he was convicted and hanged four months later, protesting his innocence. The pardon petition built on research by Kevin Morgan, who wrote a book about the case called "Gun Alley (Murder, Lies and the Failure of Justice)." Morgan arranged for forensic tests on the original hair samples and showed that the ones on Ross' blanket did not match Tirtschke's. He also gave new character evidence about the prosecution's main witness.

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