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News Release:

James Richardson Suffers Heart Attack
Had Served 21 Years In Prison Before Janet Reno Secured His Freedom Based on Evidence Uncovered by Attorney Mark Lane


Tuesday, August 9

Jacksonville, Florida -- Rev. James Joseph Richardson, who was freed and exonerated of murder charges after spending 21 and-a-half years in Florida prisons, following an intense investigation by then-Dade County State Attorney Janet Reno, suffered a "serious" heart attack yesterday afternoon and was rushed to St. Vincent's Hospital. He was at the home of his sister, Martha Tinsley. He remains in the hospital's Critical Cardiac Care unit, is listed in "critical but stable" condition a hospital spokesperson, Charlotte Rutter, confirmed today.

Richardson, the subject of a CBS television movie which is currently under development, was successfully defended by nationally acclaimed attorney Mark Lane, in a 1989 hearing on a motion to dismiss his 1968 conviction for the poisoning deaths of his seven children. Lane filed the motion after securing evidence of a confession by the baby-sitter who was with the children at the time of their deaths.

Richardson's case became famous from the 1970 book, ARCADIA, by Lane.

Since his release on April 15, 1989, Richardson was totally exonerated by State Attorney Reno who had been appointed by the Governor Bob Martinez as special prosecutor to look into the charges filed by Lane. Reno recently told a national t.v. audience on Bill Moyers Show, that it was one of the most important cases of her life. "I will carry the fear to my grave, that an innocent man, James Richardson, might have been executed," Reno told Moyers.

Richardson, had open heart, coronary-bypass surgery, after suffering a heart attack while serving his sentence in Daytona's Tomoka Prison in 1986. He has been unable to find work because of his heart condition ever since his release. He has survived on donations made by friends and a fundraising drive by radio talk show host Cathy Hughes in Washington, D.C. After Richardson's release in on April 15, 1989, his life story was first optioned by HBO and later by Michael Douglas' production company to be made into a movie. According to Lane, who now practices law in Washington D.C., Richardson signed the CBS contract on Monday, the day before his heart attack.

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