Inmate ordered released 32 years ago still in prison (video)

Jerry Hartfield 
By: Aarav Sen 

(Scroll down for video) A man who a court ordered released from jail more than 30 years ago, is still in prison, according to press reports in Texas.

Jerry Hartfield was still a young man when his uncle visited him in prison to tell him that his murder conviction was overturned and that he would be able to get a new trial.

Not long after this event, he was taken off death row. "A sergeant told me to pack my things and I would not return. I've been waiting since then for the new trial," Hartfield, 56, said during a recent interview at the prison near Gatesville, at which he is serving a life sentence for the 1976 robbery and murder of an employee of the Bay City bus station. He says he is innocent.

The Texas Court of Appeals overturned the murder conviction of Hartfield in 1980, because they found a potential juror was dismissed improperly for expressing reservations about the death penalty. The state tried twice, but could not get the court to review the case. On March 15, 1983, 11 days after the second rejection of the court, then Governor Mark White commuted Hartfield’s sentence to life in prison.

At that time, with Hartfield out of death row and back in the general prison population, the case
became dormant.

"Nothing was filed. I was thinking that my case was on appeal for 27 years," Hartfield said. Hartfield was described in court documents as an illiterate fifth grade dropout with an IQ of 51, but he has now learned to read and became a devout Christian.

Hartfield’s current lawyer, Kenneth R. Hawk II, recently described the case as a "one-in-a-million" situation where an inmate has been trapped in the prison system for more than three decades because no one seems to know what to do with him.