Glenn Ford leaves death row a free man Tuesday after serving nearly 30 years for a first-degree murder conviction and death sentence. The Caddo district attorney’s office filed a motion on Thursday recommending Ford be exonerated due to undisclosed evidence which indicated he was not present at nor did he participate in the murder and robbery of Isadore Rozeman. Rozeman, a 56-year-old watchmaker and jeweler, was robbed and killed on November 5, 1983.
Ford who is originally from California was only 34-years-old in February 1984 when he was arrested. At that time Jake Robinson, Henry Robinson and George Starts were also arrested.
Ford was Louisiana’s longest-serving death row inmate. Upon hearing of his pending release Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris, Amnesty International USA Senior Campaigner, issued a statement saying Ford is living proof that our justice system is truly flawed. McHarris said that it is moving to know that an African-American man who was convicted by an all white jury will have the opportunity to leave death row alive. The statement was ended with, “We are more determined now than ever to silence this death penalty, once and for all.”
District attorneys Catherine Estopinal and Dale Cox said if the new and reliable information would have been revealed during the trial, the end result would reasonably have been very different. If the state has knowledge of the new information Ford might have never been indicted or arrested for this crime.
While it was true that Ford did yard work for Rozeman from time to time he repeatedly denied having any part in the murder. The initial investigation indicated that Ford was in the area of Rozeman’s shop when the murder occurred. Rozeman was found dead from a gunshot wound behind the counter of his shop.
Witnesses testified Ford was attempting to sell a gun just like Rozeman’s murder weapon. A pawn shop receipt confirmed items comparable to those taken from Rozeman’s shop. The receipt had Ford’s name on it as the seller.
Paul Lawrence, Ford’s attorney, said his client was an unfortunate fence who had unknowingly received and later pawned stolen items from Rozeman’s business. Lawrence said that his client did not know that Rozeman had been shot and killed at that time.
The Robinson brothers refused to testify during Ford’s trial and sometime later all charges against the other defendants were dismissed. Ford was convicted and sentenced to die in the fall of 1984.
Rozeman’s family was informed of Ford’s pending release but not of any details surrounding the additional evidence which freed him from death row.
Phillip Rozeman, Isadore’s nephew, said this was tragic and very hard on his family. He felt it really impacted his father so much that his health was affected. Phillip said his uncle was a gentle and kind man who never hurt anyone. It is awful that someone felt the need to kill him for a few antique clocks and watches.
Phillip added that his family understands and actually believes the DA is acting honorably after review of the new evidence. He feels this is a positive reflection on the criminal justice system and that it does the right thing for people. Neither he nor his family bears any animosity for anyone. Whoever was involved in the death of his uncle will also receive justice.
Ford has been in the Louisiana State Penitentiary on death row since he was sentenced decades ago. After serving nearly 30 years on a first-degree murder charge for the death of Isadore Rozeman, Glenn Ford leaves death row a free man.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)