Exonerated death row inmate terminally ill

Exonerated death row inmate terminally ill

LOUISIANA (KSLA) - Glenn Ford was exonerated last year after new evidence revealed he was not the killer in the 1983 murder of Shreveport jeweler, Isadore Rozeman.  Now, despite his freedom, the 65-year-old is still struggling for compensation from the state and with his health.

In an exclusive interview with KSLA News 12, Ford talked about the day he was freed from Angola Prison.

March 2014, Glenn Ford walked out of Angola, free from death row. He spent 29 years, 3 months and 5 days on death row.

He has always maintained his innocence. Ford said he did not kill Rozeman and was not there when he was killed.

Glenn Ford was exonerated after new evidence came to light regarding the 1983 robbery and murder. However, the the Caddo Parish District Attorney's Office has not revealed that new evidence.

Now, far from the bars of Angola, Glenn Ford is a frail man; a former shadow of himself, living on limited time.

"I don't know if I have a long period or short period of time," he said.

He says he may be free but he still feels like he is living under the death penalty. A few months after his release from prison, Ford was diagnosed with lung cancer which quickly progressed and is now terminal.

His cancer diagnosis is at the center of a federal lawsuit. According to court documents filed on behalf of Ford, Attorney William Most claims a medical test revealed a cancer marker several years before Glenn was released from death row. Most says Ford was denied an opportunity to see a cancer doctor while at Angola. Most says Ford asked over and over for an oncologist and he was told it was such a long waiting list. The lawsuit states Ford was denied further testing and treatment for a number of conditions.

Most adds, "He had a tendon pop in his knee and they gave him a bandage and Tylenol. He had a stomach infection that was left untreated and now stage 4 lung cancer. He is very sick and not expected to live long."

Glenn Ford now needs around the clock medical care. He has a team of volunteers who help him out. Donations from around the world to help with his medical care, but those donations are nearly gone.

A second federal lawsuit was filed over Ford's wrongful conviction in Caddo Parish. Former Caddo Parish Assistant District Attorney Marty Stroud made a personal apology to Glenn for his role in sending him to death row. Just a few months ago, after Ford's release, Stroud admitted there was evidence back then that would have cleared Ford.

"He hoped that I would forgive him which I can't. I wish I could too but he took too much from me to forgive him," says Ford.

Most adds, "Caddo Parish District Attorneys Office did not comply with these constitutional protections when they convicted Glenn of a crime he had no part in."

While Glenn has worked 30 years to clear his name, the state is not willing to compensate him the $330,000 dollars in compensation for the time he spent behind bars as an innocent man. Ford says he believes he is entitled to the compensation, but questions whether he will get it.

Ford was given a $20 debit card and 24 cents that was left in his prison account.

Another one of Ford's attorneys, Kristin Wenstrom filed a lawsuit against the state. But it was denied because the state claims Ford knew the jewelry store robbery was going to happen, but did nothing to stop it.

Wenstrom adds, "The state has alleged he committed some other minor crimes but these are crimes that literally if found guilty he would not spend a day in prison, at most 15-22 years."

Wenstrom is appealing.

John Thompson says the denial is a slap in the face. Thompson says even if Ford receives the some $300,000 compensation, it's hardly enough. He should know.  He himself spent 18 years on death row, also at Angola before being cleared of a crime he didn't commit. Now he is helping other ex-prisoners through a program he created called "Resurrection After Exoneration."

Thompson says, "We don't have accountability to an individual who need to win in order to advance his career."

Meantime, Wenstrom says the public response for Glenn has been one of support. She adds the general consensus is the state should give Glenn the compensation.

At the end of the interview, when Ford was asked if there anything else you want to add to your story?

He replied, "I am an innocent man that was on death row for 30 years.  I got totally screwed over by the system here in Louisiana which I am not the only one."

Calls to former Assistant District Attorney Marty Stroud were not returned and neither were calls to Angola Prison.

In the meantime, Glenn Ford's attorney says donations have been helping Glenn survive. He's pretty much gone through those donations with his medical care which he needs around the clock.  His supporters have set up an online fundraising account to help with those costs.

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