- Description: Exoneree. A Baltimore man wrongly convicted of murder and exonerated in 2014, after nineteen years in prison. Ritz, Lehman and Van Gelder of the BPD were all named in a law suit by Burgess and in 2017 a jury awarded a record payout of $15 million.
Burgess was convicted of the 1994 murder of his girlfriend, Michelle Dyson. Eventually the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project (at Georgetown University in DC) took on his case and after a number of years, Burgess was exonerated and released. He later sued the City of Baltimore, and also several named individuals including Detective Sgt Lehman, Det. Ritz, Lab Analyst Van Gelder and other detectives, eventually being awarded a record payout of $15 million in November 2017.
Police had withheld an interview of Dyson’s young son, who saw the killer and told police it was not Burgess, also fabricating reports saying all the children were asleep. Burgess also said that detectives and Van Gelder colluded to falsify gun shot residue test results later “exposed as a sham”. Another man later confessed to the murder and, although interviewed (by Ritz), the confession was dismissed. Ritz was also involved in the original investigation, and Lehman was lead detective. For more information see Burgess’ entry in the National Register of Exonerations.