Man wrongfully convicted of murder 24 years ago may seek pardon - - Columbia, South Carolina

Man wrongfully convicted of murder 24 years ago may seek pardon from state

Doug O'Neal Doug O'Neal

Doug O'Neal has been released, but not pardoned.

That means his rights as a citizen are still limited and will remain that way until he and his advocates go through several steps.

By granting him parole the state has given Doug O'Neal physical freedom.

He's still bound by everything else that comes with a conviction for murder, even if the case against him was severely flawed.

As O'Neal and his family try to move on, WIS spoke with him Wednesday with one of the former prosecutors who won the conviction back in 1990 and then helped O'Neal to get out of prison.

Jim Morton says for O'Neal to get a pardon, he first needs a hearing before a judge on a motion to re-open the case.

Morton says given his own history with the case he might not be directly involved with the hearing because it could present a conflict.

The next task is to track down Alice Whetstone, the state's former star witness and the woman who helped convince a jury O'Neal was a killer.

Morton says Whetstone would need to provide an affidavit confirming she has long since admitted making up the story about O'Neal's involvement.

Morton says Whetstone would also have to appear in court.

If all that happens and the judge rules in O'Neal's favor, the matter would be sent to the Probation, Parole and Pardon Services board.

One big problem is finding Whetstone.

Part of her deal with the Richland County Sheriff's Department and solicitor's office almost a quarter century ago was that she would get a plane ticket out of town and her whereabouts not disclosed.

Morton says within the past couple of years, Whetstone was living in Virginia.

He says though a private investigator could work to locate her.

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