S5E2: The Path from Star Chicago Cubs Pitching Prospect to Prisoner: Jimmie Gardner’s Triumphant Story of Perseverance Under the Worst Prison Conditions Imaginable
Jimmie C. Gardner was a Charleston minor league baseball player when he was accused of sexual assault in 1987. He grew up in Tampa, FL and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs just after high school graduation, playing with them in the minor leagues for four seasons. In 1990, while working towards his business degree, Jimmie Gardner was arrested and charged with robbing and raping a woman and physically assaulting her and her mother at a home in Kanawha City. Despite always maintaining his innocence, Jimmie was put on trial and prosecutors used West Virginia State Trooper and Chief Serologist Fred Zain as the expert witness. Zain knowingly presented false testimony which resulted in Jimmie’s guilty verdict, and he was convicted of two separate counts of robbery and sexual assault as well as burglary and assault-during-the-commission-of-a-felony and sentenced to 110 years in prison. Jimmie Gardner's case is one of over 140 cases from the late 1970’s through the 1980’s in which the state of West Virginia relied on falsified forensic evidence testimony by Chief Serologist Fred Zain in order to convict. It was not until April 1st, 2016, nearly 3 decades after the Chief Serologist was exposed—when Jimmie C. Gardner’s case was overturned, and he was finally released after serving 26 years in prison. Since his release, Jimmie has become an active motivational speaker and is in the process of establishing the Gardner House, a 48-bed facility dedicated to providing shelter, food and opportunities to people recently released from prison. For more information on how to book Mr. Gardner, visit www.jcgardnerspeaks.com. In this episode, he is joined by his attorney A. Scott Bolden, Managing Partner of Reed Smith, Washington, DC and the Honorable Leslie J. Abrams, United States District Court Judge for the Middle District of Georgia.
Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava For Good™ Podcasts in association with Signal Co. No1 and PRX.