Secrets keep an innocent man behind bars for 26 years

In my novel Trial By Fear, Simon Jacks, a defense attorney, is asked what would happen if a client accused of murder confessed to him. He admits that he couldn’t tell anyone because of client confidentiality, but he insists, “It doesn’t happen. Don’t go by what you see on television. It just doesn’t happen that way.”

Yeah, right.

Andrew Wilson confessed that he fatally shot a security guard at a McDonald’s restaurant in January 1982. The problem is, he only confessed to his attorneys. And, because of attorney-client privilege, they had to keep the knowledge secret until Wilson died in 2007. In the meantime, Alton Logan was accused, tried, and convicted for the crime. He’s spent the last 26 years in prison for it, finally released on bail this past week. While technically not yet exonerated, it’s unlikely the courts will retry him.

Dale Coventry, one of Wilson’s attorneys, said, “I wish [the release] had happened a lot sooner, but unfortunately, there was no way to do anything.”