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Delbert Tibbs

Delbert Tibbs was arrested in 1974 and charged with the murder of a white man and the rape of his girlfriend. The crime took place on a Florida highway and, except for the "rape victim", there were no other witnesses. She told police the murder and rape were committed by a black man she described as dark skinned, five-six or seven with a big Afro. Delbert Tibbs is light skinned, six three and wore a small Afro. Delbert, who was hitch-hiking two hundred miles away from the scene was arrested and charged with the crimes.

It was later learned that the murder victim had been recently discharged from the navy and had moved to the trailer park where the young woman was living with her boyfriend, a photographer. The woman became involved with the sailor and they ran off together. When asked during cross-examination, "Isn't it true that you ran away from this guy? The photographer, he pursued you and caught you on the highway and then killed this young man and threatened to kill you if you didn't come back with him?" she broke down and cried. The judge called a recess. When she returned to the stand, cross examination resumed but the lawyer representing Mr. Tibbs, never asked her another question about it.

Delbert Tibbs was sentenced to death. Two years later, the Florida Supreme Court overturned his conviction for lack of evidence.





Northern California
Innocence Project