A man previously sentenced to life in prison 25 years ago has been freed from state prison after the Philadelphia prosecutor’s office told the court he was “likely innocent,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Tuesday. He was wrongfully convicted for the shooting of Penn student Tae-Jung Ho.
Chester Hollman III, now 48 years old, was 21 years old with no criminal record when he was charged with the August 20, 1991 murder of Ho, according to the Inquirer. A witness from the case testified in 2012 that police pressured her to incriminate Hollman.
District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office asked the court to lift Hollman’s sentence on June 24, according to Penn Live. Assistant District Attorney Patricia Cummings, supervisor of the office’s Conviction Integrity Unit, accused former police and prosecutors of suppressing contradictory evidence from the 1991 shooting.
Hollman’s charges will be formally dismissed later this month, according to the Inquirer.
"We have a flawed system and innocent people do go to jail," DA Alan Tauber said outside the court house, the Inquirer reported. "But we have a great system, because there is a means for correcting that."
Ho's girlfriend at the time of the killing, Jun Ko Nichei, told the court through a Japanese translator that she and Ho were walking south on 22nd Street when two people, who Nichei could only describe as “two black men,” attacked them from behind and pushed them to the ground. According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, one attacker held Ho by the feet, who police said was Hollman, while a second man held him by the shoulders and shot him in the chest, according to Nichei's testimony.
This is the eighth murder conviction reversed with help from the DA’s Conviction Integrity Unit since January 2018, according to unit supervisor and assistant DA Patricia Cummings. At a press conference on Tuesday, Cummings said Hollman “might not have ever even stood trial” if police and prosecutors at the time had ethically disclosed evidence, the Inquirer reported.