Forty-three years after he was sentenced to death for murdering a North Carolina grocery clerk, Charles Ray Finch was released from prison in June when officials belatedly acknowledged his conviction was based on false forensic testimony and a dubious identification that followed a suggestive lineup.

Finch became the 166th defendant wrongly convicted and sentenced to death row since 1973, only to be later exonerated when evidence of their innocence emerged.

In their new study, Injustice Watch co-founder Rob Warden and reporter John Seasly have identified another troubling category of cases: Defendants sentenced to die who have not been exonerated despite significant evidence of their innocence. Some remain on death row. One, Larry Swearingen, was executed in Texas in August protesting his innocence to the end. Others have died in prison without new evidence being fully considered. Still others were removed from death row based on the evidence of innocence, but not fully exonerated.

Their research reviewing the 24 cases took more than a year and appears in the Spring 2019 issue of the Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy. The law review notes a series of potential policy changes that could limit the number of wrongful convictions, such as two ideas to reform juries: First, to end peremptory challenges, which have been used by prosecutors to eliminate black people from juries; and second, to have one jury decide guilt and a second decide on the sentence in capital cases -- permitting those opposed to the death penalty to weigh the evidence, but not the sentence.

Injustice Watch will be featuring the cases, adapted by Seasly from the law review, on our website throughout the fall. The first: The case of Larry Swearingen.

Larry Ray Swearingen

Larry Ray Swearingen - Texas

Larry Ray Swearingen was put to death in Texas in August, convicted of the murder of Melissa Aline Trotter in 1999.

Rodney Reed

Rodney Reed – Texas

Eighteen days before Stacey Lee Stites was supposed to be married to a rookie police officer, her body was found in April, 1996 by a passerby in the brush on the side of a road in a rural county not far from Austin.

Thomas Jesse Ward and Karl Allen Fontenot

Thomas Jesse Ward and Karl Allen Fontenot - Oklahoma

More than six months after Donna Haraway, 24, vanished in 1984 from a convenience store in Ada, Oklahoma, two men whom police had questioned as suspects were charged with robbing, abducting, raping and killing her.

Anibal Garcia Rousseau

Anibal Garcia Rousseau – Texas

Two U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigators were on their way to dinner in October, 1988, when a man armed with a handgun suddenly emerged from between cars parked in a Houston lot and robbed them.

Darlie Lynn Routier

Darlie Lynn Routier - Texas

Responding to Darlie Lynn Routier’s frantic 911 call from her Dallas County home in 1996, police found her two sons, Devon Routier, 6, and Damon Routier, 5, dying of stab wounds.

Edward Lee Elmore

Edward Lee Elmore – South Carolina

In January, 1982, a Greenwood, South Carolina resident was found dead in her bedroom closet by her neighbor, Jimmy Holloway.

David Ronald Chandler – Alabama (Federal)

Nobody doubts that Charles Ray Jarrell Sr. shot and killed Marlin Shuler, a marijuana dealer, in 1990, after the two had been drinking beer together by a northern Alabama lake.

Tyrone Lee Noling

Tyrone Lee Noling – Ohio

The bodies of Bearnhardt and Cora Hartig, both 81, were found on the kitchen floor of their rural Ohio home in 1990, along with ten .25-caliber shell casings.

Walter Ogrod

Walter Ogrod – Pennsylvania

Four years after the naked and battered body of Barbara Jean Horn was found in a trash bag in Philadelphia, the police had made no arrests despite a series of suspects.

Eddie Lee Howard, Jr

Eddie Lee Howard, Jr. – Mississippi

Firefighters who put out a smoldering fire in the living room of a Columbus, Mississippi, house in February, 1992, found Georgia Kemp, 82, lying dead on her bedroom floor, a bloody butcher knife on her bed.

Ha’im Al Martin Sharif

Ha’im Al Martin Sharif - Nevada

Lovell McDowell was awakened one night in April, 1988, by the sound of her infant daughter, Brittany Smith. McDowell found her boyfriend, then known as Charles Robins, holding the 11-month old and hollering, “Brittany, come on. Brittany, wake up. Wake up, Brittany.”

John George Spirko

John George Spirko, Jr. – Ohio

John George Spirko Jr. was a criminal with a system he believed would help cut his time in prison: He made up information for authorities, pretending to have knowledge that would help solve crimes.

Kevin Cooper

Kevin Cooper – California

In a wealthy neighborhood of ranches thirty miles east of Los Angeles, a home was broken into in the early morning hours on a June night in 1983 and three members of the family, along with a family friend, were brutally killed.

Corey Dewayne Williams – Louisiana

Corey Dewayne Williams took a reduced plea last year for his alleged role in a robbery-murder he confessed to at age 16, after an all-night interrogation in police custody.

Dennis Harold Lawley - California

There were plenty of reasons for concern over the verdict that Dennis Lawley was responsible for the murder of an ex-convict named Kenneth L. Stewart, whose body had been found on the side of a road in California’s Central Valley days after he was released from prison in 1989.

Robert Leslie Roberson III - Texas

Five days before he was scheduled to be put to death in 2016 for the 2002 murder of his two-year old daughter, Robert L. Roberson III won a reprieve from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Sonia Jacobs

Sonia Jacobs – Florida

Sonia Jacobs was the unusual case: a woman sentenced to death. Jacobs was convicted of the murder of a Florida state trooper and a visiting Canadian constable at a rest stop outside Miami in 1976.

Marcellus S. Williams

Marcellus S. Williams – Missouri

A suburban St. Louis doctor came home one August night in 1998 to find the lifeless body of his wife who had been stabbed 43 times by a butcher knife.

Jonathan Bruce Reed

Jonathan Bruce Reed – Texas

In 1978 a Dallas flight attendant, Wanda Jean Wadle, 26, was murdered by an intruder in the Dallas apartment she shared with another flight attendant.

Ralph International Thomas - California

In 1986 the bodies of two so-called “Deadheads” -- fans of the Grateful Dead who traveled with the group on tour -- were found beaten and shot to death in the San Francisco Bay.

Robert M. Kubat – Illinois

In June, 1980, a Lake County, Illinois jury sentenced a truck driver named Robert M. Kubat, who had been in and out of prison for years, to death after convicting him of the murder of Lydia C. Hyde, 63.

Jarvis Jay Masters

Jarvis Jay Masters - California

Jarvis Jay Masters remains on death row, accused of murdering a corrections officer in 1985.

Kimber Edwards

Kimber Edwards - Missouri

After police in University City, Missouri, found Kimberly Cantrell shot to death in August, 2000, suspicion quickly fell on her ex-husband, Kimber Edwards, who had been charged with failing to make child support payments.

Damien Wayne Echols

Damien Wayne Echols – Arkansas

The nude, bound and mutilated bodies of three eight-year old Cub Scouts were found in a water-filled ditch in a forest near their West Memphis, Ark., homes, one day after they disappeared in May, 1993.