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“THERE’S A LOT OF EVIDENCE…THAT PROVES I’M INNOCENT”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Feb. 7, 2020) — On Thursday afternoon, “Noogaradio” host David Tulis spoke with former Shelby County, TN Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) sergeant Earley Story, whose narrative The Post & Email began reporting in late 2018.
Story was working as a Shelby County jailer in the 1990s when he felt compelled to report the dangerous conditions in the facility to the NAACP and FBI. His claims of substandard safety and medical protocols were substantiated by a U.S. Justice Department investigation report detailing lack of supervision of inmates, use of excessive force, and that “Mental Health and Medical Care Is Constitutionally Deficient,” among other items of concern.
Story subsequently became the object of retaliation on the part of the Sheriff’s Office in the form of a false drug charge. “I was on vacation when I got arrested on January 31,” Story told Tulis, referring to his first arrest in 1997 which was initially dismissed by Judge Ann Pugh less than three months later.
However, in 1999 the SCSO refiled the charge, as Story explained to Tulis, this time successfully prosecuting him and obtaining a felony conviction. Story subsequently was fired from the SCSO and told The Post & Email that locating full-time employment, given his record, became impossible.
He has maintained his innocence since his conviction on December 9, 1999 and taken active measures to clear his name.
In October 2018, nearly two decades after his conviction, Story came into possession of the Sheriff’s Office’s activity record showing that the confidential informant to whom Story was accused of selling marijuana had no undercover purchases that day. Upon that discovery, Story filed a Writ of Coram Nobis petition with the Shelby County Criminal Court to review his case. To date, the court, presided over by Judge Chris Craft, has not reached the underlying issue.
Years ago, Story’s case received support from the National Police Defense Foundation (NPDF) which was renewed last year. When Tulis asked Story how he found the resources and resolve to represent himself, Story said that after refinancing his home and paying lawyers over $18,000, “the money didn’t matter; they just did whatever they really wanted to do. I lost so much, I said ‘Well, maybe I could go on my own,’ because for 20 years, I did not get any evidence — there’s a lot of evidence out there right now that proves I’m innocent.”
He described “scorn an ridicule” in the courtroom while “trying to seek justice.” In Part 2, Story informed Tulis that he has an “indigency” hearing on Friday, February 14 to determine if he is eligible to receive the services of a public defender.
Tulis interviewed Story in two segments which are posted on his Facebook page.