In 1984, a couple reported an attempted robbery and carjacking. During a fight with the assailants, the couple reported that one of the perpetrators fired a shot that ended up killing the other assailant, Eric Batiste. 17-year-old George Toca was identified after a police officer recognized the name Batiste and claimed he and George were “inseparable.” Both victims identified George in a photo lineup even though he did not fit their original descriptions. George was convicted of second-degree murder after much jury deliberation and sentenced to life without parole. In 2004, Innocence Project New Orleans filed a motion for post-conviction relief based on the fact that prosecutors had failed to disclose evidence regarding the witnesses’ original descriptions and a confession from the actual gunman. In 2015, as his motions proceeded in court, George was offered a plea deal to lesser charges and time served. He agreed and was released from prison. However, in 2021, attorneys at Innocence Project New Orleans, filed a motion to vacate that 2015 conviction due to coercion. The state joined the motion and the convictions were vacated in 2022.
George’s speaking experience includes schools, small business associations, and Innocence Project New Orleans events. He has spoken about his experiences and the injustice of our criminal justice system. He has also spoken about juvenile justice reform and his faith.
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