A nonprofit legal clinic plans to revisit one of the District's most gruesome murder cases -- the 1984 slaying of Catherine Fuller -- to assess whether some of those convicted in the slaying might be innocent.
The Innocence Project of the National Capital Region acted on a request from Russell Overton and Christopher Turner, two of eight defendants convicted in a 1985 trial that gripped the city.
Julia E. Sullivan, the legal clinic's president, said that a team of law students will delve into records and conduct interviews to try to develop new evidence in the Oct. 1, 1984, slaying of Fuller, 48, a cleaning woman and mother of six who was beaten to death in an alley at Eighth and H streets NE. Depending on the result, the clinic might recruit lawyers to pursue the case in court, Sullivan said.
Overton's mother, Mary Overton, was ecstatic yesterday after learning of the news about her 44-year-old son.
"Thank you, Lord," said Overton, who lives in Chevy Chase. "I've been waiting for this for 19 years. I know he's innocent."
Prosecutors said Overton and Turner were part of a gang that chased Fuller into the alley and then robbed, kicked and beat her.
Some critical testimony in the case came from Calvin Alston and Harry Bennett, who pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Both later recanted their testimony, and Sullivan said she was particularly interested in the possibility of false confessions.
Criminal lawyer Veronice Holt, who is representing convicted defendant Levy Rouse, said, "There are multiple similarities between this and the Central Park jogger case," citing a lack of physical evidence, among other things. In the New York City case, five teenagers confessed to the 1989 rape of a jogger and served several years in prison before prosecutors moved last month to dismiss the convictions after DNA evidence implicated another man.