Another innocent person set free. At least Ms. Reasonover was reasonably compensated:
It took 16 years for Ellen Reasonover's pleas of innocence to be heard. A federal judge released her from prison in 1999, overturning a murder conviction.
Reasonover's troubles began in January 1983 as a witness reporting what she claimed she had seen about the murder of 19-year-old attendant James Buckley at a Vickers station on West Florissant Avenue in Dellwood.
She ended up the primary suspect in the case, was later convicted of capital murder, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole for 50 years.
From the beginning, Reasonover insisted she was innocent. Her failure to testify at her trial was the recommendation of her trial attorneys and a mistake, she said in later interviews.
In August 1999, U.S. District Judge Jean Hamilton ruled that the trial Reasonover got in St. Louis County Circuit Court was "fundamentally unfair." The judge went further. She said there was compelling evidence that jurors would have agreed with her assertions of innocence if they had heard the evidence.
Hamilton's ruling was based in part on a 58-minute tape, a secretly recorded Dellwood jailhouse conversation between Reasonover and her boyfriend, Stanley White, in which 20 times they deny being involved in the murder.
Reasonover was placed in another jail cell where two hours later she supposedly confessed the shooting to a cellmate, Rose Jolliff, who later told the jury about the alleged confession. A future cellmate, Mary Lyner, also claimed Reasonover had confessed.
Later, new evidence would prove that Lyner had lied to the jury about her dealings with prosecutors. And questions arose about the deal Jolliff got for her testimony.