Louis Mickens-Thomas was convicted solely on the basis of the work of a disgraced criminalist by the name of Agnes Mallattratt at the Philadelphia crime lab. Miss Mallatratt is on record saying that her job was, “to fit the suspect to the crime”; and that she did.
After serving 40 years in prison for the 1964 tragic murder and rape of a 12-year-old west Philadelphia, PA girl, Louis Mickens-Thomas was paroled by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on January 28, 2004; however the fight was not over. Described as “vindictive” by the U.S. Third Circuit Court, this Parole Board found a way to violate Lou’s parole and send him back to prison. CM did not give up; we returned to this same court seven years later and again won Lou’s freedom.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
January 27, 2011
Court In Philadelphia Weighs Freedom For Convicted Killer, 82
By Troy Graham
The Philadelphia Inquirer
January 12, 2011
After 40 Years In Jail Freedom Is Oh, So Sweet
By Oliver Prichard
The Philadelphia Inquirer
January 29, 2004
the full story…
In 1964 Louis Mickens-Thomas was convicted of the murder and rape of a 12-year old Edith Conner of Philadelphia based solely on the work of a disgraced criminalist by the name of Agnes Mallatratt who worked at the Philadelphia crime lab. Miss Mallatratt is on record saying that her job was to “fit the suspect to the crime” and the tragedy is that Lou was the wrong man convicted of this brutal crime.
On January 28, 2004 after serving 40 years in prison Thomas was finally freed by the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Centurion had worked for 13 years investigating Lou’s case and came to believe without a doubt in his innocence. But the relief and jubilation were short lived. Described as “vindictive” by the US Third Circuit Court judge, this parole board found a way to violate Lou’s parole and send him back to prison. CM did not give up and returned to the same court seven years later and this year finally won Lou’s freedom.
On Sunday September 27, 1964 at around 9:30 a.m., 12-year old Edith Conner was last seen alive by her girlfriend in Jack’s Food Market at 1111 40th Street in West Philadelphia. Her whereabouts were completely unaccounted for between that time and two days later at 3:30 p.m. when her body was discovered in a debris covered back alley behind 1115 40th Street one block away from where she lived and three doors away from Lou Thomas’ backdoor. She had been raped and sodomized by her killer and her articles of her clothing had semen and blood stains on them. Vaginal and rectal swabs tested positive for semen. Cause of death was strangulation.
Time of death which is always difficult to determine was placed at between 7:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 29 two days after she was last seen. However testimony as to time of death was contradicted by several experts so that in Lou’s first trial she could have been dead only for the time rigor mortis had set in. According to the ME’s report “rigor mortis was noted in all extremities of the body.” But at the second trial the prosecution witness testified she had been dead “within several hours to a couple of days.”
Thomas became a suspect after Agnes Mallatratt discovered microscopic particles of shoe wax and bristles on the victim’s clothing similar to those taken from Thomas’ shoe repair shop located downstairs in the building where he lived. Police focuses on Thomas immediately. During CM’s investigation there was another shoe repair shop only a half block away right next to a Laundromat. The victim’s father testified that his daughter had visited there on the morning she was killed.
In the late 1960’s Mallatratt was exposed as a fraud during another murder trial when the defense attorney researched her training and education and found it to be a lie. Since she began her career at the crime lab in 1958 she had always testified that she was a graduate of Temple University and had done graduate work in zoology, biology, and botany and that she was a hematologist. At another murder trial in 1967 under cross examination by a renowned Philadelphia attorney, she admitted that they were all lies. She never even graduated from junior high school.
This was a huge scandal in Philadelphia and Lou was granted a new trial. He was reconvicted when Mallatrat’s retired supervisor vouched for her veracity. None of Lou’s jurors were aware that the person who collected and analyzed the evidence was serial perjurer and a professional fraud.
Centurion Ministries knew from the ME’s report that the victim had Type B blood. Lou is a Type B secretor. At the second trial the expert testified the semen came from type O blood. If this is accurate Lou could not have been the perpetrator. However when CM looked into this the DA said it was a “stenographic error.” CM then attempted to analyze the rape kit evidence which had been gathered by the tainted laboratory and found that the evidence had been destroyed, forever destroying the chance for exoneration through DNA testing.
Because of the age of the case and the fact the evidence no longer existed, Centurion Ministries working with Attorney Dennis Cogan since 1990 opted to develop a clemency petition. The age of the case did not allow us to develop enough new evidence to get back into court.
On his last day of office January 14, 1995 Governor Robert P. Casey considered 25 petitions for clemency. Of those 25 petitions on the governor’s desk only Lou’s request was granted. He did so on the basis of Lou’s sterling prison record and accomplishments as well as Lou’s 31 years of unshakable insistence of innocence. During his prison history Lou never received a disciplinary mark, received a college degree and collected a legion impressive support.
Casey had stipulated that Lou be released to a half way house as a transitional phase to eventual freedom. But incoming Governor Thomas Ridge, who won election on his “get tough on crime” campaign, refused to honor the clemency of his predecessor. This was the first time in Pennsylvania history that an inmate’s freedom was blocked after receiving clemency.
So for nine years Centurion with attorney’s Len Sosnov and David Rudovsky have fought to reverse the outrageous decision by Governor Ridge.
When a natural lifer in Pennsylvania is granted clemency and is freed he is on lifetime parole and therefore under the auspices of the Parole board. If he should violate his parole by not abiding by the board’s requirements he can be sent back to prison. This is what happened to Lou. When the parole board made it a requirement to admit to his crime and attend sex offender therapy, Lou refused. They bound the 76-year old man in chains and threw him back in Graterford on April 24, 2004.
The next day the federal court outraged by this inhumane and barbaric treatment, once again ordered Lou’s immediate release and he returned to his residence in Allentown PA. One year later Lou was again arrested on a ludicrous parole violation. CM did not give up. Petitioning the courts on his behalf CM won Lou’s freedom again. In January 2011 the Federal Court intervened and instructed the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to release Mr. Thomas immediately, chastising its hitherto “willful noncompliance, bad faith, and …vindictiveness” in denying Mr. Thomas his rightful commutation.
Lou lived briefly with a nephew and his wife and then later at an assisted living home as dementia had begun its awful infection. Time and a wrongful conviction took its toll and in 2014 Lou died and was given a full military burial.