June 17, 2024

Woman released after 43 years in prison for crime she didn’t commit

Woman released after 43 years in prison for crime she didn’t commit

Sandra “Sandy” Hemme, a Missouri woman wrongfully convicted of murder, has been released from prison after spending over four decades behind bars.

A Livingston County circuit judge overturned her conviction, citing “clear and convincing” evidence of her innocence.

Hemme, now 63, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the 1980 murder of Patricia Jeschke, a library employee in St. Joseph.

The case against Hemme was based on false statements she made about her past mental health issues. Judge Ryan Horsman stated that new evidence directly connects a local police officer to Jeschke’s death. This officer, who was later jailed for an unrelated offense and has since passed away, remains unnamed.

Judge Horsman has ordered Hemme’s release within the next 30 days unless prosecutors decide to retry the case.

This ruling followed a January evidentiary hearing where Hemme’s legal team presented compelling arguments supporting her innocence.

According to the Innocence Project, Hemme’s legal representatives, her case marks the longest-known wrongful conviction of a woman in American history.

In a statement, her lawyers expressed gratitude to the court: “We are grateful to the Court for acknowledging the grave injustice Ms. Hemme has endured for more than four decades

Hemme had initially pleaded guilty to capital murder to avoid the death penalty.

Her conviction was later overturned on appeal, but after a one-day trial in 1985, where her “confession” was the only evidence against her, she was found guilty again.

Hemme’s lawyers detailed her troubled history, noting she was a mental hospital patient at the time of her arrest, making “wildly contradictory” and “factually impossible” claims that authorities ignored.

At 20, Hemme was undergoing treatment for drug use, de-realization, and auditory hallucinations, having been in inpatient mental health care since age 12.

Her legal team argued that during several lengthy interviews, Hemme, who was on psychiatric medication, gave inconsistent statements about the murder.

They reported that she was restrained and heavily medicated, impairing her ability to hold her head up. The lawyers accused the police of exploiting her mental illness and coercing her into false statements while she was sedated with antipsychotic medication.

They also claimed that evidence implicating Michael Holman, a 22-year-old police officer, in an attempt to use Jeschke’s credit card, was concealed by authorities.

Vanguard News