Help someone who was wrongly imprisoned for 42 years
Organized by: Brian Bushee
Hello, my name is Jacob. I am doing a Mitzvah project for my Bar Mitzvah this year. I care a lot about social justice, like helping people wrongly accused of crimes. So I contacted the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. They introduced me to Teri. Teri was in jail for 42 years for something she didn’t do. I interviewed her to learn her story.
Teri was home in Carlisle, PA during the summer before her junior year of college. She was studying speech therapy. That summer, she was seeing a man who it turned out had a girlfriend he lived with. One late August weekend, there was a fire in a building that killed two people, including the girlfriend, and injured the man. Teri was blamed for the fire because a witness claimed Teri was arguing with the girlfriend before the fire. Another witness claimed Teri was outside the building the night of the fire. Two other witnesses supported Teri’s story that she was at Dickinson College that night. They did not do much of an investigation of the fire. They used witness statements to say the fire was set in two places, so it must be arson.
Teri was charged with arson and first-degree murder. She is African American but had an all-white jury, judge, DA, and lawyer. The DA’s case just relied on the witnesses that said Teri was at the building earlier and the claim the fire was arson. But, there was no physical evidence that linked Teri to the fire and she had witnesses that she was not there.
Teri was convicted in 1973 and got a life sentence with no chance at parole. She was sent to the Muncy State Prison. She learned Braille in prison so she could be a Braille translator. In 2009, she heard a talk by Marissa Bluestine of the Pennsylvania Innocence project. Teri asked for their help. They had a fire investigator review the evidence using today’s scientific methods. He said there was no evidence to prove it was arson. They got Teri a new hearing based on the fire investigator’s analysis.
In 2015, a judge reviewed the case and vacated the convictions. The current DA has appealed the decision. Teri is now out on bail and living with her Aunt in Carlisle. She missed out on so much in her life and I would like to help her. I would like to raise money to help Teri with her living expenses
Read more about Teri here