John Randall Alexander

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Alexander’s claim for compensation goes to legislature

By John Howell Sr.

John Randall Alexander can expect payments to begin July 1 for his wrongful murder conviction in 1989, the Secretary of State’s office said.

Alexander signed an agreement on October 7 that opens the newest chapter in a saga that began on a summer morning in 1987 when the body of Neil Smith was found alongside Highway 51 just north of the Yalobusha County line. Alexander had argued with Smith the night before, he said.

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By 1989 Alexander had been tried and found guilty of Smith’s murder, based on the testimony of a couple who testified that Alexander had told them he killed Smith. Once in prison, Alexander studied law books in the prison’s library and wrote letters until he finally convinced the couple to recant their testimony. He was released in 1995. A new trial was ordered but never held.

After the state’s wrongly convicted statute was passed in 2009, Alexander and his attorney pursued the compensation, set at $50,000 for each year up to a $500,000 maximum.

State Attorney General spokesperson Jan Schaefer told The Clarion-Ledger that the state has agreed that Alexander’s case meets the criteria for wrongful conviction reimbursement and has submitted the claim to the legislature.

“The claim is submitted to the legislature once they are seated in 2012,” Schaefer told The Panolian. “There is no mechanism to pay before then. The legislature has paid all previously submitted claims and we would expect they would with this claim,” she said.

Alexander told the Clarion-Ledger that he expects to receive $281,000, based on almost six years he served in prison. The agreement that he signed  subsequently on October 7 binds him to confidentiality about the terms and amount of the settlement.