Mike Santarelli

Retired Homicide Detective, Montgomery County, PA

In 2016, I met Mike Malloy following a conversation with Marissa Bluestein, who runs the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. Mr. Malloy was representing Mr. Leroy Evans in a wrongful conviction case. I agreed to review the case against Leroy and work with Mike in an effort to gain a new trial for Mr. Evans.

As I read the volumes of original trial transcripts from 1981, I began noticing clear problems with the police investigation that preceded Leroy’s arrest for the murder of Mrs. Emily Leo in 1980. The biggest problem I had was that the crime scene, as described by the investigators, seemed not to fit with what we knew about Mrs. Leo’s injuries from the Medical Examiner’s report.

Among the issues that I found problematic was the description of what happened on the day of the crime given by the lone witness against Leroy, Anthony Jones, and how Jones implicated Leroy in the crime. Jones’ testimony at Leroy’s trial seemed to contradict the evidence.

One of my most significant concerns involved the clothes-iron that Jones said Leroy had used to strike Mrs. Leo in the head. While reviewing the Search Warrant Application, I found there was no reference to the iron. It appears, in fact, that no clothes-iron was ever recovered during the search of the house. So, a clear question we now had was: Where is the iron?

Further hampering the review of the case was the absence of crime scene photographs available to us. Most certainly, if an iron was used, it would appear in the crime scene photographs. This is just one of the many problems that plagued the evaluation of the crime scene.

In July of 2016, Mike Malloy interviewed Anthony Jones in prison. Jones had consented to this interview and it was officially recorded by a stenographer who was present during the deposition. Jones spoke about the day of the incident and told Mike that he, and he alone, was the perpetrator of the robbery and murder of Mrs. Leo. Most importantly, Jones said explicitly that Leroy did not participate in the crime. Upon review, the account provided by Jones in 2016 corroborated the evidence in the case.

At my first court appearance for the review of this case, I had the pleasure of meeting Leroy for the first time. I introduced myself to him and it was striking that, despite his incarceration of thirty-eight years, Leroy had a smile and he thanked me kindly for my work on his behalf. His wife and mother were both present, and continue to appear at each of Leroy’s court proceedings.

Leroy is an amazing person who remains stoic through this difficult process.

Keep me updated!

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