NEW ORLEANS — After spending more than 12 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, Kendall Gordon is a free man.
"My child free," screamed his mother on the steps of the courthouse Thursday. It was the audible sound of pure joy.
With his arms draped around the shoulders of his mother and older brother, for the first time in 12 years, Kendall Gordon walked down the steps of the Orleans Parish Court House a free man.
"It feels good man," he exclaimed. "Feels really good.”
Thanks to the dedicated work of the Innocence Project New Orleans, Kendall’s life will never be the same.
Darceleen Comadore testified that on Aug. 8, 2009, she was in her New Orleans home with her sister, Patrice Comadore, when two men wearing bandanas kicked the front door in and demanded money. During the robbery, Patrice Comadore was shot in the head and one of the men was struck in the neck by the bullet.
The New Orleans Police Department said the two men sped away to Mazant Street where the wounded man, later identified as Jessie Bibbins died.
Comadore later told police that she believed one of the men was named Kendall or Kendrick Gordon. She later recanted that identification after learning that Bibbins had died.
Gordon was arrested later and eventually convicted of second-degree murder.
“Ms. Comadore repeatedly tried to correct her mistaken identification during a pre-trial deposition, a pre-trial motion to suppress hearing and in her trial testimony,” the organization said. “Unfortunately all of Ms. Comadore’s pleas to bring her family actual justice went unheard when Mr. Gordon was sentenced to life in prison at only 19 years old. Ms. Comadore always maintained Mr. Gordon’s innocence and still does today.”
IPNO said the prosecutors’ “rush to judgment and blind insistence that they had the right person” cost Gordon more than a decade of his life in prison.
IPNO says post-conviction DNA testing as well as other pieces of evidence collected from the night of the murder excluded him from being a contributor.
Gordon will be the 40th innocent person exonerated in Louisiana or Mississippi by IPNO and the 30th innocent person exonerated in Orleans Parish.
“Orleans Parish has the highest per capita known wrongful conviction rate in the county. It has had eight times as many exonerations per capita than the national average. As Mr. Gordon walks out of prison, many other innocent people convicted in Orleans Parish remain incarcerated,” IPNO said.
IPNO Executive Director Jee Park says, “we worked really hard to get him home for this holiday. We’re so happy for the family it’s just such an incredibly happy day.”
Just before he rode off into the city, Park brought Gordon over to District Jason Williams who wanted to meet him in person to show love.
Williams said, “he should have never been there based on what we know. I’m just sorry it took this long to get him justice.”
Another innocent man free at last.