Roeling Adams

County of Conviction:

Convicted of:





case details

Roeling Adams was wrongly convicted of murder in 1985. The true perpetrator admitted to the crime at a parole hearing decades later, leading to Adams’ release from prison.

In September 1985, in the San Pedro housing project, Roeling Adams, Jewel Wade, Albert Dalton, and Edward Kennedy were playing dice. After Dalton accused Roeling of cheating, the group found themselves involved in a heated altercation. The argument quickly escalated, leading to a physical fight.

Following the brawl, Roeling, Edward Kennedy, and two others left the housing project. However, according to witness Lori Mitchell, approximately four hours later, a group of people, including Roeling, Kennedy, and Roeling’s brother, Edward, returned to the housing project with guns. Witnesses varied on how many people came back to the housing project, with Mitchell recalling seven or eight individuals returning. Other witnesses mentioned only three armed individuals returning.

With the group returning, chaos ensued, and shots rang out into the crowd, resulting in injuries and death. Again, there were conflicting accounts of what happened. Mitchell alleged both Kennedy and Roeling were the shooters, while another survivor identified Kennedy alone as the shooter. Complicating matters further, Mitchell’s testimony was tainted by her arrangement with authorities, trading information for leniency in her own legal troubles. Interestingly, Lori Mitchell was a state’s witness in Stephen Billiard’s wrongful conviction which is another one of TIC’s cases.

Despite possessing an alibi, Roeling found himself accused of the shooting, fueled by other mistaken eyewitness identification, the complexities of gang culture, and the questionable reliability of the state’s key witness. For the next 28 years, Roeling remained incarcerated, bearing the burden of a wrongful conviction.

It wasn’t until nearly two decades later that a breakthrough emerged. Kennedy, during a parole board hearing, confessed to his involvement in the shooting alongside two other fellow gang members, absolving Roeling and his brother Edward of any culpability. Armed with this newfound revelation, the Parole Board finally granted Roeling his freedom.

The Innocence Center continues to seek a full exoneration and finding of factual innocence for Roeling Adams.

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