Larry Hicks was sentenced to death in Lake County in 1978 and exonerated in 1980
Larry Hicks was convicted of a double murder in Lake County, Indiana. The only evidence against Hicks was the testimony of two women who said they had seen him arguing with the victims and waving a knife; the victims were stabbed.
After the conviction, no appeal was filed. Hicks's execution was only two weeks away when the warden of the prison where he was being held persuaded two lawyers to look into the case.
The lawyers obtained a stay and, after Hicks's trial counsel acknowledged that he interviewed no witnesses and was unaware that his client faced the death penalty until a week before the trial, the trial judge overturned the conviction. Then, with funds provided by the Playboy Foundation, the lawyers hired an investigator who interviewed the original witnesses, both of whom recanted their testimony. Hicks was acquitted on retrial.
Hicks is African American as were the victims.