According to The Inquirer, this is one of the largest wrongful-conviction settlements in Philadelphia history. The city said Wednesday it will pay $9.8 million to Chester Hollman, after spending nearly three decades in prison for a murder he did not commit.
Chester Hollman III was 21, with no criminal record and a job as an armored-car driver, when he was pulled over in Center City one night in 1991 and charged with the fatal shooting of a University of Pennsylvania student in a botched street robbery. A judge ordered him released last year at age 49, citing evidence that police and prosecutors built their case on fabricated statements from people they coerced as witnesses and later withheld evidence pointing to the likely true perpetrators of the crime.
The agreement announced Wednesday is the latest in a string of seven-figure settlements stemming from claims of misconduct by city police in the late 1980s and ’90s. Those cases have led to more than a dozen exonerations in recent years and have cost the city more than $35 million since 2018.
“There are no words to express what was taken from me,” Hollman said in a statement. “But this settlement closes out a difficult chapter in my life as my family and I now embark on a new one.”
His attorney Amelia Green said the evidence supporting Hollman’s innocence — which garnered media attention first in the form of a 2017 report in The Inquirer and, in April, an episode of the Netflix series The Innocence Files — put pressure on city officials to resolve the case swiftly, though neither they nor police admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement deal.
“There was irrefutable evidence that Chester was innocent, is innocent and has always been innocent and would never have been wrongfully convicted aside from extraordinary police misconduct,” Green said.