Meet the Exonerees

Travis Hayes

State: Louisiana
Date of Birth: 1981
Incident Date: 1997
Age at Arrest: 17
Conviction Date: 1998
Age When Exonerated: 26
Exonerated Date: 01/19/2007
Time Served: 8
Conviction: Second degree murder
False Confession: Yes
Implicated by Another Youth: Yes

Case Details

On April 5, 1997, seventeen-year-old Travis Hayes was pulled over by police while driving around New Orleans with his seventeen-year-old friend Ryan Matthews. Neither boy knew that several hours earlier, two men driving a similar car had shot and killed a grocer during an attempted robbery. One eyewitness tentatively identified Matthews after being shown a photographic array by police; another identified Matthews during a “show-up.” Armed with these identifications, prosecutors interrogated Hayes for seven consecutive hours without allowing him to sleep, use the bathroom, or eat. Hayes eventually buckled under the pressure and falsely admitted that Matthews had shot the grocer while Hayes served as the getaway driver. Matthews and Hayes were both convicted; Matthews was sentenced to death, while Hayes received a life sentence. Some years later, a man named Rondell Love, who had been arrested for an unrelated offense, confessed to the grocer’s murder. When DNA found at the crime scene was tested, the results implicated Love, and the prosecution dropped the charges against Matthews. The state waited two more years, however, before releasing Hayes. He spent a full eight years in prison.