Baltimore to pay $48 million to 3 men wrongly imprisoned for decades in ‘Georgetown jacket’ killing

Oct 20, 2023, 9:53 AM

Baltimore will pay $48 million to three Black men who each spent 36 years in prison for a high-profile killing they did not commit after police wrongly arrested them as teenagers, according to an agreement.

The largest settlement in Maryland history was unanimously approved this week by the Baltimore City Board of Estimates, closing a federal lawsuit brought by the trio after their 2019 exoneration. The men alleged that detectives had a pattern of coercing witnesses, not just in their nearly 40-year-old case.

The State’s Attorney for Baltimore City had found them innocent after a reinvestigation. Eyewitnesses renounced previous testimony that had contributed to the wrongful convictions.

“These are men who went to jail as teens and came out as young grandfathers in their fifties,” Justin Conroy, the chief legal counsel for the Baltimore Police Department, told the board on Wednesday in a meeting shared on YouTube.

Alfred Chestnut, Andrew Stewart and Ransom Watkins — known today as the “Harlem Park Three” — will each receive $14.9 million. The remaining $3.3 million will cover legal fees, Conroy said.

Authorities arrested the minors in November 1983 for the slaying of 14-year-old DeWitt Duckett. The teenager was walking to class when was accosted over his blue Georgetown jacket and shot.

Chestnut, Watkins and Stewart had been removed earlier that afternoon from the same Baltimore middle school during a visit to their old stomping grounds. Police also found a Georgetown jacket during their Thanksgiving Day search of the Chestnut home, but Chestnut’s mother had a receipt for it, said the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, a legal aid group that helped prove their innocence.

A 2018 records request filed by Chestnut shed new light on the case. It uncovered evidence showing multiple witnesses told officials that a different 18-year-old suspect was the shooter. One student saw him flee and dump a gun as police arrived at Harlem Park Junior High School.

Authorities at the time focused their investigation on the trio, and the other suspect was shot to death in 2002. Conroy told the Baltimore City Board of Estimates that he is not aware of any new investigations into prosecutorial misconduct or the 1983 fatal shooting.

The settlement speaks to “gross injustices” wrought by a “broader justice system” long beset by issues it is working to overcome, said Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott in a statement read aloud Wednesday by a board member.

“Our city is in a position where in 2023 we are literally paying for the misconduct of BPD officers decades in the past. This is part of the price our city must pay to right the many wrongs of this terrible history,” Scott said in the statement.

The sum adds to the $8.7 million total approved in March 2020 by the Maryland Board of Public Works to compensate the three men.

In a Facebook post, the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project said “no amount of money can make up for the 36 years that each man lost” in prison.


Pollard is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

United States News

China’s President Hu Jintao, shakes meets with singer-songwriter, Barbra Streisand, left, and...

Associated Press

Henry Kissinger, secretary of state under Presidents Nixon and Ford, dies at 100

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the diplomat with the thick glasses and gravelly voice who dominated foreign policy as the United States extricated itself from Vietnam and broke down barriers with China, died Wednesday, his consulting firm said. He was 100. With his gruff yet commanding presence and behind-the-scenes manipulation of […]

6 hours ago

File - A truck passes oil pump jacks at dusk near Karnes City, Texas, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. On W...

Associated Press

US economic growth for last quarter is revised up to a 5.2% annual rate

Shrugging off higher interest rates, America's consumers spent enough to help drive the economy to a brisk 5.2% annual pace from July through September.

6 hours ago

Associated Press

A US Navy plane went into a Hawaii bay. Underwater video shows its tires are touching a coral reef

KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (AP) — Tires from a large airplane that’s been stuck in a Hawaii bay for more than a week are resting on parts of a reef, according to video the U.S. Navy released Wednesday as it figures out a plan to remove the aircraft. There were no injuries to the nine people […]

7 hours ago

FILE - Utah Food Bank volunteers load groceries for the needy at a mobile food pantry distribution ...

Associated Press

Total GivingTuesday donations were flat this year, but 10% fewer people participated in the day

NEW YORK (AP) — Nonprofit organization GivingTuesday estimates that donors gave $3.1 billion this year on what has become one of the most important fundraising days of the year — the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Donations were up $20 million on Tuesday, a 0.6% increase over last year before adjusting for inflation, the nonprofit said. GivingTuesday […]

7 hours ago

(Photo by South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images)...

Associated Press

US Navy warship shoots down drone launched by Houthis from Yemen, official says

A U.S. Navy warship sailing near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait shot down a drone launched from Yemen, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Maui officials on standby to stop heavy rains from sending ash into storm drains

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Maui officials were on standby Wednesday to prevent ash from August’s deadly wildfire in Lahaina from flowing into storm drains after forecasters said a winter storm could bring heavy rain and strong winds to the island. The National Weather Service said rain falling at a rate of more than 1 inch […]

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University: innovating Arizona health care education

Midwestern University’s Glendale Campus near Loop 101 and 59th Avenue is an established leader in health care education and one of Arizona’s largest and most valuable health care resources.



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.

Baltimore to pay $48 million to 3 men wrongly imprisoned for decades in ‘Georgetown jacket’ killing