Two Salisbury men convicted in the 1990s in connection with a crime that probably never occurred were exonerated last week by a Wicomico County Circuit Court judge.
Judge Karen Dean granted Wicomico State’s Attorney Jamie Dykes’ request to vacate the 1993 attempted rape conviction of Grant Lee Jones, 66.
In April 1993, Jones – then 36 – was convicted of assault with intent to rape, attempted rape, and assault and battery. Judge Alfred T. Truitt sentenced him to seven years in prison.
The victim, a 46-year-old Salisbury woman, told police she was walking in an alley between Martin and Barkley streets at about 9 p.m on March 4 when she was attacked. She told police she fought off her attacker, but later identified Jones in a photo lineup.
Earlier this year, Dykes formally acknowledged the innocence of another man, David Veney, 47. He was convicted of rape and assault in 1996. Dykes supported Veney’s petition for compensation as a wrongfully convicted individual.
In 2022, the State’s Attorney’s Prosecution Integrity Unit opened an investigation into Veney’s conviction. During the course of this investigation, prosecutors learned that the supposed victim in that case had made identical allegations against Jones – three years prior.
After an exhaustive probe, investigators concluded that both men were actually innocent.
Investigators also determined there was no credible evidence that the crimes had occurred at all.
“Prosecutors have an obligation to do justice, always,” said Dykes in a statement. “Protecting the innocent requires integrity at every step of an investigation and prosecution, and in cases such as Mr. Veney’s and Mr. Jones’s, an openness to re-examining the facts when hindsight affords the clearest view.”
During a hearing in Salisbury, Dykes apologized to both men on behalf of the State’s Attorney Office and the state of Maryland. “Although nothing can give these men back the time they spent incarcerated,” she said afterwards, “it is my sincere wish that the state’s formal recognition of their innocence and of the harm inflicted upon them brings them some measure of justice and closure.”
These are the first two prosecutor-led exonerations on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Dykes expressed her gratitude to everyone that played a role in the result today, including James McCollum, L. Ben Guiffrè, Dr. Geraldine Goertzen, Dr. Joyce Parsons, Elizabeth Ireland, Deborah Dickerson, Brendan Becker, and Bob Roswell, as well as to Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Gilbert and Special Investigator Tracy Majors, who led the Prosecution
Integrity Unit’s investigation, and, most importantly, to David Veney and to Grant Jones.