Hassan Bennett, 36, knew he didn’t do it. He’d spent the final 13 years in jail, researching the regulation and pouring over his personal case. He’d been imprisoned for the homicide of Devon English in 2006, accused of taking revenge after a poker recreation gone unhealthy. This was his fourth time taking his case again to trial and his second time performing as his personal legal professional, and this time, it labored. The jury deliberated for 81 minutes and on Monday, acquitted Bennett of homicide.
“I was sitting in the holding cell thinking, after five minutes, what’s taking so long?” Bennett instructed the Washington Publish. “When the jury came in and they called me up, I already knew it was a not-guilty verdict.”
Of their unique statements, Bennett’s associates Corey Ford and Lamont Dade each recognized Bennett because the shooter within the 2006 case that took English’s life, however they later recanted their testimony, saying it was coerced. Nonetheless, Bennett’s a number of makes an attempt at proving his innocence got here up empty. Lastly, fed up with a courtroom system that saved ruling in opposition to him, Bennett took the regulation into his personal fingers, in opposition to the recommendation of nearly each conceivable authoritative topic.
“They told me, if you mess up here, your tail is done,” Bennett mentioned. “Well, I’m not gonna mess up then. There is no room for error. This is the time you rely on yourself. They call it crunchtime in basketball, when the best player in the game gets the ball with five seconds left and it’s his last shot. He wins or loses on this shot. That’s how I felt.”
Bennett studied regulation and targeted his consideration on Philadelphia murder detective James Pitts, the person who obtained the witness statements that put him behind bars. Within the years following Bennett’s conviction, Pitts had been accused of coercing statements ten occasions, and judges have vacated different convictions due to his misconduct. Pitts is at the moment on desk responsibility whereas the division investigates his many scandals.
Bennett figured that was pretty much as good a spot to begin as any. The primary time he represented himself in courtroom resulted in a hung jury, with all however one juror discovering Bennett not responsible. Discouraged however not defeated, Bennett tried once more. He refused to put on a swimsuit, as a substitute carrying his jail uniform as a means of signaling to the jury that he had nothing to cover. He cross-examined witnesses, submitted his personal cellphone data and referred to as individuals who might corroborate his alibis to the stand. He even referred to as Pitts to the stand to accuse him of coercing the unique statements.
And in the long run, Bennett wasn’t stunned the jury declared him not responsible. A free man, Bennett says he’s all in favour of learning to take the bar and have become a bonafide legal professional.
“People from our neighborhood, from low-income neighborhoods, they don’t really know the law,” he instructed the Publish. “But see, there are people from the legal community that don’t know about the low-income neighborhoods. They don’t know about ‘the hood,’ as they call it. I am that bridge.”