Legislation to request Governor Wolf to Pardon Eric Riddick in consideration of the evidence establishing his innocence and urging the Pennsylvania General Assembly to amend the state’s Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA). 

Sponsors: Councilmember Oh, Councilmember Blackwell, Councilmember Green

Watch NBC Nightly News coverage of this resolution: 

Respectfully requesting that Governor Wolf grant a pardon to Eric Riddick in
consideration of the evidence establishing his innocence.
WHEREAS, Mr. Eric Riddick is currently serving a life sentence for first-degree murder
and possession of an instrument of crime in the shooting death of William Catlett at the
corner of 58th Street and Belmar Terrace on November 6, 1991. He pled not guilty to
these charges and continues to maintain his innocence; and
WHEREAS, Three alibi witnesses corroborated Mr. Riddick’s testimony that he was two
blocks away from the scene of the crime at the time of the shooting; however, these three
alibi witnesses were not presented to the jury by Mr. Riddick’s attorney despite having
been in attendance throughout the trial. It was later discovered that Mr. Riddick’s
attorney had not filed a Notice of Alibi Defense; and
WHEREAS, The lone witness in the trial, Mr. Shawn Stevenson, recanted his
identification of Mr. Riddick as the shooter in an affidavit signed July 10, 1999. He wrote
that he had been pressured to initially lie by a friend of William Catlett. However, due to
a financial dispute with a private investigator, Mr. Riddick’s family did not receive Mr.
Stevenson’s affidavit until early 2003; and
WHEREAS, A ballistics expert hired by a court-appointed attorney to Mr. Riddick in
2012 concluded that, based on the crime scene, autopsy, and trial documents, the
trajectory of the bullets did not support Mr. Stevenson’s original claims that Mr. Riddick
had shot at Mr. Catlett from a balcony; and
WHEREAS, In a June 2016 hearing, Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart denied Mr.
Riddick’s latest petition on the grounds that it was filed beyond the one-year deadline
currently required by Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA). He further
concluded that the information that the ballistics expert used in his report was not

considered new evidence under the PCRA, nor was Mr. Stevenson’s recantation.
Therefore, the evidence was not eligible for consideration by the court; and
WHEREAS, The Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed Judge Minehart’s ruling in
December 2016, but then-Senior Judge James Fitzgerald III, specially assigned to
Superior Court, wrote that the case against Riddick was “difficult, if not impossible, to
reconcile with the ballistics evidence. Unfortunately, it is clear that all information used
by Conrad was in the public domain at the time of trial in 1992”; and
WHEREAS, Judge John Bender wrote a concurring statement in Commonwealth vs. Eric
Riddick, No. 3480EDA 2016, in which he stated, “I write separately only to express my
utmost displeasure with the Post Conviction Relief Act’s failure to facilitate justice in this
case, where it is clear to all that it is likely that an innocent man sits behind bars for no
better reason than a poorly conceived statute. No system of justice is perfect. However, a
system of criminal justice that prevents the correction of obvious errors is easily
improved – if only the legislature could see fit to do it.” Justice Fitzgerald joined in this
concurring statement; and
WHEREAS, On May 3, 2018 this Council adopted Resolution No. 180411, “Urging the
Pennsylvania General Assembly to amend Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act so
that reliable evidence of innocence may be considered to prove that a person who is
convicted of a crime is, in fact, not guilty”; and
WHEREAS, A person convicted of a crime in Philadelphia may file a PCRA petition to
appeal their conviction; and
WHEREAS, The PCRA unjustly punishes persons for the negligence of their counsel
and/or the person’s inability to comply with a very brief time limit in which to file a
petition because of newly discovered evidence; and
WHEREAS, Under the PCRA, evidence that reasonably proves a petitioner is not guilty
is not considered at all, if the petition is not filed within one year of the conviction, with
only some limited exceptions; and
WHEREAS, Newly-discovered evidence under the PCRA is not simply recently discovered evidence, but evidence that could not have been obtained by reasonable
diligence that would have resulted in a not guilty verdict at trial. As a result, significant
errors made at trial by petitioner’s counsel may prevent evidence of innocence from
being considered by the court and evidence newly obtained by petitioner will not be
considered by the court, if it could have been obtained, but was not; and

WHEREAS, Upon consideration of the facts of the case, it appears that what is now
keeping Eric Riddick in prison is not his guilt but the limitation of the law. That a filing
deadline stands between an evidently innocent man and his deserved freedom is
antithetical to the principles of justice. This Council passionately pleads for Mr.
Riddick’s pardon so that he may at last proceed with his life, liberty, and pursuit of
happiness; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, That it
respectfully requests that Governor Wolf grant a pardon to Eric Riddick in consideration
of the evidence establishing his innocence.
FURTHER RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution be transmitted to Governor Tom
Wolf.