Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Career Girls Murders

The Labyrinth

But it was far from over for Whitmore. In a series of appeals and denials, his case crawled through the criminal courts at a snail's pace. After three trials on the Borrero mugging and three convictions, two of which were overturned, there was always hope for a third reversal. The Minnie Edmonds murder trial had ended in a hung jury and the Wylie-Hoffert indictment had been dismissed in 1965. Whitmore's attorneys persisted and less than seven months after his last conviction, they succeeded in getting Whitmore out of prison temporarily while his case could be re-heard on technical issues. The court wanted to review the fairness of the "show-up" identification at the seven-three on the night of April 24, 1964.

Again, a long period of affirmations and appeals continued for several years. Whitmore was returned to prison and sent to Greenhaven in upstate New York. In 1971, the State Court of Appeals, on a vote of four to three, upheld his conviction on the mugging charges. But in the dissenting opinion, the judges showed their extreme distaste for the entire affair. One judge denounced the "strange triple confessions with their odor of instigation" by the police. Another judge wrote that "the case against Whitmore is a hopeless one" and that official "misconduct and ineptitude" was a major factor in the Whitmore prosecution. It was a stinging criticism of the police and the D.A.'s office.

But judges weren't alone in their belief of Whitmore's innocence. A newspaper reporter named Selwyn Raab, who had written extensively on the story for the New York's Journal-American, continued to investigate the matter. In 1972, he re-interviewed police and witnesses connected to the case. He discovered that Elba Borrero made pivotal contradictory statements to some of her relatives. Raab took written statements and submitted those affidavits to the Brooklyn D.A.'s office.

This new information placed Borrero's identification of Whitmore in serious doubt. D.A. Eugene Gold said the evidence "renders the case so weak that any possibility of conviction is totally negated." Gold made a request to Brooklyn Supreme Court that Whitmore be released immediately from prison. The court agreed and on April 10, 1973, George Whitmore Jr. was freed from prison for the last time.

"I feel it's just beyond expressing," he told reporters, "I'm overwhelmed!" But not everyone was happy. One prosecutor pointed out that three separate juries had found Whitmore guilty in three trials. By freeing Whitmore, he said, "Mr. Gold had undermined the very integrity of the judicial process and dealt a devastating blow to law enforcement." Nevertheless, Whitmore headed home to Wildwood, New Jersey.


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