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WV Innocence Project Wins Parole for Imprisoned Man

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA – After 18 years behind bars, an innocent man has been released from prison due to the efforts of the West Virginia Innocence Project (WVIP) at the West Virginia University College of Law.

Kenneth Manns was serving a life sentence for first degree murder and sexual assault in Mercer County. Due to faulty forensic evidence, the WVIP obtained a re-sentencing and lesser sentence for Manns, making him immediately eligible for parole. He was released in July, becoming the WVIP’s first client to be granted parole.

“With perseverance, our law students worked with our criminal justice system to get to the right result,” said Valena Beety, associate professor of law and director of the WVIP. “This man was serving life in prison and now he is in the process of going home to be with his family and son thanks to everyone’s hard work.”

WVU Law students and alumni Ashley Joseph ‘13, David Estep ‘13, Andrew Vodden ‘14, and Kelli Ganz ‘14 spent the last two years researching and investigating the case, and representing Manns in court. They worked closely with WVIP Legal Fellow Kristen McKeon and were supervised by Beety and attorney Melissa Giggenbach. WVU rising senior Quenton King, a criminology major, assisted on the case.

WVU public interest law students gaining experience by helping others

public service

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA—This summer, 15 students from the West Virginia University College of Law are gaining valuable work experience in public interest law while helping those in need.

The students are recipients of a 10-week long Public Interest Advocates (PIA) Fellowship awarded by the West Virginia Fund for Law in the Public Interest. PIA Fellows work at non-profit legal services organizations and help those living in poverty with complex legal issues in family matters, consumer law, housing, and protection from abuse.

The PIA Fellowship is rewarding personally and professionally for Lia Deane, a rising second-year law student working at Legal Aid of West Virginia in Charleston.

“Dealing directly with clients is the experience I was hoping for in law school,” she said. “I wanted to get hands-on, practical experience this summer so that I could apply the things I learned during my first year. Legal Aid lets me do that every day.”

In addition to Deane, the 2014 WVU PIA Fellows are Bethany Burdette ‘16, Taylor Graham ‘15, Patrick Holbrook ‘16, Brown Holston ‘15, Martin McKeen ‘15, Alex Meade ‘16, Aaron Moss ‘16, Laura Lee Partington ‘14, Allison Santer ‘16, Jordan Smith ‘16, Shane Snyder ‘15, Jenny Thoma ‘16, Phil Wachowiak ‘16, and Stephanie Welsh ‘15.

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