Peter Vaughn

3.5 years
Peter Vaughn was convicted in 1983 for serving as a lookout in an armed robbery at a Star Market in the Fenway area. During his trial he was clearly agitated, a factor which may have convinced the jury of his guilt. Two months after the initial armed robbery, the same grocery store was robbed again, and this time a security camera caught a picture of the lookout, who matched Vaughn’s description. During the second robbery, however, Vaughn was in the Charles Street Jail on an unrelated charge. Despite this inconsistency, he was convicted based mainly on eyewitness identification.

On appeal in 1986 the court decided that “the documentary evidence…was so compelling that reasonable jurors could not have been satisfied of [Vaughn’s] guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” He was subsequently released. Upon his release, Vaughn had a very limited support system and struggled with drugs, mental issues, homelesseness, and a troubled family life. In the early 2000s he reached a turning point. He took his medications more regularly, saw a counselor and attended Alcoholics Anonymous. By 2005 he had found an apartment, was holding down a part-time job, and gave motivational speeches to teenagers, seeing his own background mirrored in their struggles. After years of challenges, Vaughn finally got his life back on track.

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© 2011 New England Innocence Project