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Man Nearly Executed, Awarded $14M after Exoneration

A former death row inmate who came within weeks of being executed was awarded $14 million by a federal jury in New Orleans after being cleared of his murder conviction.

John Thompson, 40, spent 18 years in prison after being convicted of killing hotel executive Ray Liuzza during a 1984 robbery. Thompson adamantly maintained his innocence during his trial and prison term. Thompson spent most of his 18 years on death row.

Just weeks before Thompson was scheduled to die, a defense investigator discovered a crime lab report which found that the blood type of the robber, which was recovered from the victim's pants, did not match Thompson's.

Based on the newly-discovered evidence, a judge resentenced Thompson to life in prison without parole, but his murder conviction was upheld until a state appeals court later overturned it and ordered a new trial.

Thompson was found not guilty in the retrial.

In the subsequent civil lawsuit, which Thompson filed against Orleans Parish officials and several current and former prosecutors, a federal jury determined that Thompson was entitled to $14 million for the wrongful conviction.

Gordon Cooney, along with fellow attorney Michael Banks, worked for 14 years to win Thompson a retrial and subsequent acquittal.

Sources: Associated Press, Yahoo! News

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