Just months after Serial subject Adnan Syed was released from prison, two men walked out of a Georgia prison after serving 25 years for crimes they didn’t commit. Apparently, the exoneration was at least partially due to the work of two investigative true-crime podcasters.
Brian Bowling Died In 1996
On October 18, 1996, 15-year-old Brian Bowling died of a gunshot wound to the head. According to the Georgia Innocence Project, Bowling was on the phone with his girlfriend when the shot rang out, and he told her just moments prior that he was playing Russian Roulette.
The gun wasn’t Bowling’s—it belonged to 17-year-old Cain Joshua Storey, who was in the room when Bowling was shot. Storey was almost immediately arrested for involuntary manslaughter.
Despite overwhelming evidence that Bowling’s death was a tragic accident, the police soon began investigating it as a homicide on the basis of a single tip.
A neighbor of the Bowling family told police that Storey and his friend, Lee Clark, confessed to her that they had planned Bowling’s murder after the younger boy paid witness to a robbery Storey and Clark had committed.
Shortly after, Storey’s charges were upgraded to murder and police arrested Clark in connection to the alleged homicide.
Clark And Storey Were Sentenced To Life In Prison
During the lengthy and controversial trial, jurors heard from a hearing and speech-impaired man who was in the Bowling home at the time of Brian’s death. He communicated to police that he saw Clark running through the yard on the night of the shooting.
Based on the two testimonies, along with a coroner who had his doubts that the shooting was self-inflicted, both Clark and Storey were sentenced to life in prison.
However, many years later, podcasters Susan Simpson and Jacinda Davis unraveled the state’s case in their show Proof. Apparently, the investigative podcasters uncovered two crucial points that were never shared with the defendants or their council.
Firstly, the neighbor was coerced into giving false statements and testimony under the threat of the police removing her children from her care.
Secondly, it was revealed that the hearing and speech-impaired man had witnessed an unrelated but similar shooting 20 years prior, and he was confusing the two incidents.
Judge Overturns Clark’s And Storey’s Convictions
25 years later, the Rome Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office and Floyd County Superior Court Judge John Neidrach agreed that, in light of the evidence, Clark’s conviction should be overturned and his charges dismissed.
As for Storey, his charge was reduced back to involuntary manslaughter. He entered a guilty plea and his 10-year sentence was considered time served after his 25 years behind bars. Like Clark, he was also exonerated of the murder charge.
Now, both Clark and Storey have a long journey ahead of them as they rebuild their lives. However, they are both reuniting with families that never gave up on them or doubted their innocence.