8 Facts to Know about the
Wrongful Conviction of India Spellman
1. India’s Alibi
India was talking on the phone and texting at the time both crimes were committed. Two alibi witnesses and phone records confirm this.
2. Eyewitness Descriptions
There were two perpetrators, male and female, in this case. The male was a 14 year old child with a distinguishing facial tattoo. He was turned in to police by a family member.
Witnesses describe the Black female as dark-skinned, “thick”, size 18, 180 lbs, age 25 – 30, and wearing dark, full-length Muslim garments.
As you can see from these photos taken of India at the time, India is light-skinned, skinny, and a high school basketball player. She was never Muslim and did not possess Muslim garments.
3. A Child’s False Statement
Homicide detectives began focusing on India as a suspect following their meeting with the 14-year-old and his family member. The child falsely identified India as the shooter in a signed statement to police. At trial, he made numerous false statements and fabricated testimony against India.
He later indicated that his initial statement implicating India was the result of coercion.
4. Illegal Juvenile Interrogation
Homicide detectives actively prevented Spellman, a minor, from access to her parents during her interrogation. This is a denial of her basic Constitutional rights. Juveniles, because they are particularly vulnerable to pressure and threats, are entitled to enhanced protections.
Detectives not only denied India’s repeated requests to have her parents present, they used subversion and lies to trick her parents into leaving the police station before she was interrogated.
5. Police Misconduct and Abuse
India consistently denied having any knowledge of the crimes that occurred that day. She consistently denied having participated in any crimes. Nevertheless, detectives engaged in extreme forms of physical and psychological abuse to elicit a false confession from India, who at the time had reading comprehension difficulties. When she asked to have the document she signed read back to her, detectives refused and told her that she could go home if she signed the document. Moments after she signed, India was booked.
6. Ineffective Defense Counsel
The jury never heard from India’s alibi witnesses. They did not get a chance to look at the phone records. Why? Her trial attorney did not bother to introduce this important evidence at trial.
7. Evidence Hidden From The Defense
An eyewitness at trial claimed she saw Spellman running away from the scene of the homicide after the female shot the victim. But a month after the crime, years before trial, this person told the DA’s Office that she did not see the perpetrator’s face, contrary to her trial testimony where she claimed to have seen India’s face. The DA’s Office never told Spellman or her trial lawyer that this witness told them a month after the crime that she could not see the shooter’s face. This witness recently told a defense investigator that she told prosecutors right before her testimony that she could not identify the female perpetrator, to which the prosecutors told her that the suspect was “sitting right there next to her lawyer.”
8. Gender Bias in Exonerations?
Over the last few years, we have witnessed a growing number of high-profile exonerations in Philadelphia. None of these exonerees have been women.
India deserves to be the first.