Timothy Atkins

County of Conviction:

Convicted of:





case details

Timothy Atkins was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1985 at the age of 17. Tim was accused of robbing and fatally shooting Vincente and Maria Gonzales, but there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. After spending 23 years in prison, a key trial witness recanted her testimony and Tim Atkins was exonerated.

The Crime
On New Year’s Eve in 1984, Vincente and Maria Gonzales attended a concert to celebrate the new year. They returned to their car at 12:15 a.m. Two black men came up to the car from the back. One went to each of the car doors. One pointed a pistol at Maria and put his hand on her face. The other pointed a shotgun at Vincente and told him to give up the car. The man with the pistol told Maria to give up her purse. The man with the shotgun then shot Mr. Gonzales in the chest and abdomen, proceeded to pull him out of his car, and removed the property from his pockets. Maria’s necklace was taken from her.

Maria identified the man with the pistol from a 6-photo spread at her home. She picked Atkins’s photo as the man with the pistol.

The prosecution called Marvin Moore, a jail-house snitch, to the stand but he refused to talk. Instead, the prosecution used a statement from him a few days before the trial. The statement said that Moore heard Ricky Evans, who was with Atkins, say “We just blasted on a mother-fucker.” Moore’s statement also indicated that Atkins was holding some gold necklaces in his hand. In court, Moore denied making both of these statements.

The prosecution also called Denise Powell, who said on New Year’s Day she heard Atkins state, “We offed him” with regards to a Mexican being killed the night before.

Officer Debbie Dresser testified that Maria Gonzales viewed a photo lineup and related that one of the suspects contained in one of the lineup cards depicted similar facial features to one of the murder suspects. Still, none of the suspects were in the photos shown to her. The features were dark complexion, slim face, and bulging eyes. At the time of the crime, Tim was well over six feet tall and weighed 175 pounds. Maria failed to identify Atkins at trial.

Dresser also testified that Sylvester Henderson’s description matched the suspect’s physical description given by Maria Gonzales. Dresser was present when Henderson was subsequently shot and killed by the police during an attempt to arrest him as a suspect in this case. Henderson’s nickname was Gus.

Tim Atkins’ Alibi & Conviction
At trial, Tim put on an alibi defense. Julie Davis testified she saw Atkins at the time of the murder at her sister’s house, and it would have been impossible for him to have committed the crime. Despite this, on July 28, 1987, Tim Atkins was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 32 years to life.

New Evidence
Years after the trial, Denise Powell recanted her testimony and said it was not Tim who admitted to killing a Mexican. Rather, it was another individual in the car that day. The only other evidence implicating Tim was a jailhouse snitch and a flawed photo identification procedure. Seeing the faults in the case, and the likelihood that an entirely different person committed the crime, Judge Tynan reversed Timothy Atkins’ conviction and ordered him released.

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