Steven Manning former Chicago cop on death row ♦♦
Mike Ruppert former LAPD officer ♦♦
Death Penalty: Not in Canada ♦♦
Offsite: The case against the death penalty ♦♦ Abolish the death penalty
2006: Hornoff was
reinstated as a Warwick police detective and has since retired. The compensation was split with his ex-wife, he re-married and has another daugther.
Jeffrey Scott Hornoff
Experienced both sides of the fence
I hope this letter finds
you all safe and well. My name is Jeffrey Scott
Hornoff. I am a detective with the Warwick, Rhode Island police
department, and I used to be in favor of the death penalty; that
is until I was charged, tried and convicted of first degree murder.
If Rhode Island had the
death penalty I'd have been on it. Instead I was sentenced to
life in prison. After six years, four months and eighteen days
(on November 6, 2002) I was freed when the one responsible, filled
with remorse and hauntings, came forward and confessed.
Having experienced both
sides of the fence, I now have a new path. I intend to speak
out about our judicial system and how innocent people are wrongfully
imprisoned every day. I hope to help at least one other innocent
see freedom. Perhaps I can do the most good at law/journalism
schools and police academies, and other organizations, educating
and informing future police officers, prosecutors and judges,
but I also feel the need to inform everyone of just how tenuous
our freedoms are. If it could happen to me- a white, upper-middle
class, 40-year-old cop, it can happen to you. If you're interested
in my speaking with your organization please contact me. Take
care, Scott Hornoff
April, 2003: How are you?
I'm doing okay. I just wanted to let you know that Warwick Mayor
Scott Avedesian has decided that I am not entitled to my backpay,
benefits or pension. I'm stunned. I had been told that he was
fair, compassionate and reasonable; and I was only asking for
my backpay and pension, not even seeking compensation for legal
fees, the loss of my and my Mom's homes and more. I guess my
trials aren't over. I'd really appreciate it if you and those
in your organization would consider writing letters to the mayor
and to the local media (The Warwick Beacon and The Providence
Journal). I thought my trials were over.
Below are some
of the news reports regarding the Hornoff case. To set the record
straight, Scott Hornoff would like people to know:
- Vicky Cushman was not my mistress
- The 'affair' lasted about 2 weeks
- I didn't deny knowing Vicky Cushman;
I initially denied being intimate with her because my interview/interrogation
was being tape recorded. I admitted to it in my pre-polygraph
interview, within an hour. See my press
- Todd Barry's name and number were on Vicky's Rolodex, siezed and tagged as evidence.
- The Associated Press story
is way off. I didn't change my story several times. And I never
whimpered-that was RISP Detective Denniston's description. Yeah,
I held my head in my hands and stared at the floor in disbelief.
Is that the sign of a guilty man? Sheldon Whitehouse merely grasped
at my initial denials of intimacies because that's all the State
has to justify my wrongful imprisonment.
- The letter from Vicky to me was found in a sealed envelope.
- The Warwick Police did not
attempt to protect me. They were simply incompetent. The Warwick
Police were put on trial. -Scott
Jeffrey Scott Hornoff's
conviction of murdering Victoria Cushman is exposed as a sham
when the real killer confesses
By Hans Sherrer for Justice Denied Magazine (12-17-02)
Jeffrey Scott Hornoff's 1996
conviction of murdering a women he had an affair with was based
solely on specious circumstantial evidence that made him appear
guilty. Namely, in an effort to conceal the affair from his wife
he initially lied to police about knowing the murdered woman,
After serving 6-1/2 years of a life sentence, he was freed five
days after the real killer confessed on November 1, 2002.
In the summer of 1989, 27-year-old
Warwick, Rhode Island police officer Jeffrey Scott Hornoff began
an affair with 29-year-old Victoria Cushman. Married with an
infant child, Hornoff decided after a few months to break it
off with her. She didn't take kindly to his decision, since she
took their relationship much more seriously than he did. She
had even told several people at the sporting goods store where
she worked that she thought he was going to leave his wife for
her. On August 11, 1989, two days after telling co-workers that
Hornoff wanted to end the affair, Victoria Cushman didn't show
up for work. Several of them went to her apartment and found
her lying in a pool of blood. She had been bludgeoned to death
with a 17-pound fire extinguisher that was found near her.
Suspicion that Hornoff was
her killer was fueled when an unmailed letter to him was found
in her apartment. In the letter she refused to accept he was
ending their romance and demanded that he leave his wife. Hornoff
cemented the appearance of his guilt when in an effort to conceal
the affair from his wife, he denied knowing Victoria Cushman
when police who knew about the letter - first questioned
him about her death.
However, the appearance of
his guilt was counteracted by his seemingly rock solid alibi
of being at a party with his wife and friends on the night of
Victoria Cushman's murder.
Since there was no physical
evidence of any kind or any witnesses linking him to the murder,
and the Rhode Island State Patrol had to take over the murder
investigation when fellow members of the Warwick Police Department
were accused of interfering with the investigation, Jeffrey Scott
Hornoff wasn't charged with Victoria Cushman's murder until more
than five years after her death. However, he had been painted
with a black brush for so long, that as Warwick City Councilman
Carlo Pisturo said recently, "By then it was almost common
knowledge that Scott had killed the girl. All indications were
that he was guilty and that the cops had covered for him."
Hornoff's ace in the hole at
his trial was his alibi of being at a party with many other people
when Victoria Cushman was murdered. The prosecution, however,
casually brushed that aside. It claimed he slipped away, murdered
her, and returned to the party without anyone noticing his absence
or any indication from his clothing that one would expect to
be visible if he had just committed a brutal and messy murder
with a fire extinguisher. The unmailed threatening letter was
presented as circumstantial evidence of Hornoff's motive, and
his initial denials of knowing her was presented as circumstantial
evidence that he tried to cover up murdering her.
After the jury bought the prosecutor's
argument and convicted Jeffrey Scott Hornoff of murder without
any proof he was guilty, he professed his innocence at his sentencing.
He told the packed courtroom, "Am I guilty of something?
Yes I am. I broke my sacred wedding vows, and for that I will
never forgive myself."
Sentenced to life in prison,
the Rhode Island Supreme Court unanimously dismissed Hornoff's
arguments when it upheld his conviction in 1999. At that point
all indications were that he would be spending the rest of his
life in prison branded as a heinous and vicious murderer. However,
fate intervened on his behalf when on Friday, November 1, 2002,
45 year old carpenter Todd Barry walked into the office of the
Rhode Island Attorney General and confessed to murdering Victoria
Cushman. Barry indicated he was consumed with guilt over an innocent
man spending his life in prison for something Barry had done.
After the A.G.'s office spent
the weekend verifying that Barry's confession coincided with
the known evidence and facts of the case, he was charged on Monday,
November 4th with her murder. The degree to which Victoria Cushman's
murder was inadequately investigated is indicated by the fact
that although Barry lived near her and had dated her, he was
never considered a suspect and had never even been questioned
about her murder. Todd Barry was home free once law enforcement
officials locked onto Hornoff as her killer. At that point they
became tunnel blind to clues leading to anyone else and all meaningful
investigation into her murder ended. Although they had a friendship
with Victoria Cushman in common, there is no evidence that Barry
or Hornoff had ever met or knew of each other.
Jeffrey Scott Hornoff
leaves the Providence County Courthouse a free man on after spending 6-1/2 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit
Jeffrey Scott Hornoff walked
out of the Providence County Courthouse a free man on November
6th, five days after Todd Barry confessed to Victory Cushman's
murder. His release on bail pending further proceedings was ordered
by the same judge that had presided over his trial and assuming
his guilt, had sentenced him to spend the rest of his life in
prison for a crime he didn't commit. Hornoff's claim of innocence
had fallen on the deaf ears and to the blind eyes of everyone,
including the judge, who chose to substitute the appearance of
his guilt for any proof that he actually was.
Although Barry's confession
is what led to Hornoff's release, concerned people had been publicizing
his nearly self-evident innocence for some time. The group truthinjustice.org,
for example, explained on its website that the case against him
was based on "innuendoes and speculation. There were no
fingerprints, no blood evidence, no DNA matches, no witnesses,
and no evidence."
Rhode Island Attorney General
Sheldon Whitehouse tried to deflect attention away from the failure
of the police to adequately investigate Victoria Cushman's murder
and the failure of the prosecutors to demand evidence Jeffrey
Scott Hornoff was guilty before prosecuting him. Whitehouse used
the same sort of hollow sophistry and disregard for the truth
that led to Hornoff's false conviction when he denied investigators
and prosecutors "did anything improper or wrong." Although
Hornoff was the victim of a horrible wrong by law enforcement
officials and judges that obliterated his life, Whitehouse blamed
him for his wrongful prosecution, conviction and imprisonment
by saying he shouldn't have made the sort of "misstatements"
to police typical of someone "who is trying to hide something."
Yet it was soon made plain to police after they first questioned
Hornoff in 1989 that he was trying to hide something: his illicit
affair with Victoria Cushman from his wife. For initially lying
to police about that indiscretion he paid the heavy price of
being tormented and punished for over thirteen years: the seven
years he spent as a suspect and accused from her 1989 murder
to his 1996 conviction, and the six and a half years he spent
in Rhode Island's maximum-security prison falsely branded as
The horrific travesty perpetrated
on Jeffrey Scott Hornoff by the police, the prosecutors, and
the trial and appellate court judges involved in his case is
not lessened by the sophomoric effort of Rhode Island officials
to cover up for their blundering incompetence and callousness.
All he can now do is to rebuild his life from the ashes of the
atomic bomb dropped on it from his purely coincidental choice
of having an affair with the woman murdered by Todd Barry. In
a particularly cruel twist of fate, the wife he had tried to
protect from knowing about his affair with Victoria Cushman by
lying to the police, divorced him while he was in prison. It
was that lie told to try to preserve his marriage that prosecutors
used to destroy his credibility and falsely paint him as a heinous
murderer. So telling that lie intended to protect what A.G. Whitehouse
called the "small secret" of his affair, is what he
spent over six years in prison for, not her murder.
When released from custody
on November 6th Jeffrey Scott Hornoff literally had nothing but
the clothes on his back. His home, his wife, his career, his
possessions - it was all gone. Five weeks later, on December
11, 2002, about 150 people turned out for a fundraising dinner
in Warwick, Rhode Island to help him get back on his feet financially.
Over $5,300 was raised and his three sons, 13, 11 and 6, who
now have their father back, attended.
Sources: Man To Be Freed
On Murder Rap, Douglas Hadden, Pawtucket Times, November 5, 2002.
Convicted Killer Freed As Another Man Confesses, Brian Carovillano
(AP), Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 23, 2002. Friends
Hold Fundraiser for Hornoff, Cathleen F. Crowley, The Providence
Journal, December 13, 2002. From Capitol Hill Blue
Guilty? Yes, but not of murder
By The Associated Press, Nov 24, 2002
PROVIDENCE, RI -- For someone
who claimed to be innocent, Jeffrey Scott Hornoff behaved a lot
like a guilty man.
In the days, weeks and years
after Victoria Cushman was bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher
in 1989, Hornoff changed his story several times. Under police
questioning, he whimpered, held his head in his hands and stared
morosely at the floor.
Now, more than six years into
a life sentence for murder, it turns out his only offense was
adultery and lying about it to police. The former Warwick police
detective's attempts to hide the infidelity were apparently what
got him convicted.
None of that, however, became
clear until this month, when Todd Barry, a 45-year-old carpenter
who was never even a suspect, came forward and confessed to the
murder. Investigators said he acted out of guilt.
They gave no motive for the
slaying but said Barry and the victim had dated.
"It's an utter stroke
of luck," said Rob Warden, director of the Center on Wrongful
Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law. "We
probably don't have more than a dozen examples nationally of
cases in which a voluntary confession has led to an exoneration."
He added, "If this had
happened in another state that had the death penalty, Hornoff
would almost certainly be dead."
Two days after Barry was charged
with murder, a judge set Hornoff free.
"Scott Hornoff had small
secrets that he wanted to protect," said Atty. Gen. Sheldon
Whitehouse. "Protecting those small secrets made him look
like he was protecting the big secret that he had murdered Victoria
Hornoff, a 40-year-old father
of three, has declined all interview requests until his case
has been dismissed, which could happen Dec. 6.
Hornoff and Cushman met in
1989 while she was working at a sporting goods store where Hornoff,
a member of the Warwick police diving team, bought his scuba
gear. He was married and had a baby. He and Cushman began sleeping
together that summer.
Cushman, 29, told co-workers
she thought Hornoff would leave his wife for her. Later that
summer, Hornoff apparently told Cushman he was breaking it off
with her. A co-worker of Cushman's testified that Cushman was
surprised and angry.
Two days later, Cushman failed
to show up for a work, and she was found bludgeoned to death
in her apartment. The weapon, a 17-pound fire extinguisher, was
found nearby. Detectives also found a letter she had written
to Hornoff in which she refused to break off their affair and
insisted he leave his wife.
Lacking any blood, fingerprints
or other forensic evidence linking Hornoff to the crime, prosecutors
seized on the letter.
There was also Hornoff's behavior.
In the hours after Cushman's body was discovered, he gave conflicting
accounts of his relationship with Cushman, even once denying
that he knew her. His alibi differed from what his wife and brother
Tangle of truth, lies
"The criminal justice
system is simply unforgiving when people do things that are quite
natural," Warden said. "When somebody asks if you're
having an affair, it's quite natural to lie. Then you're a liar.
When you start telling the truth, you're changing your story.
That's two strikes as far as a jury's concerned."
The Warwick Police Department's
handling of the case probably didn't help. In their zeal to protect
Hornoff, his fellow officers may have made him look more guilty,
Whitehouse said. Evidence was lost or misplaced.
Police also gave him a polygraph
and said he passed; investigators later said the test violated
every rule for conducting such procedures.
The state police eventually
took over the case and, in 1994, more than five years after the
slaying, Hornoff was charged with murder.
"By then it was almost
like common knowledge that Scott had killed the girl," said
City Councilman Carlo Pisaturo Jr., who pushed for an independent
investigation of the department's handling of the case. "All
indications were that he was guilty and that the cops had covered
Colleagues caught in scandal
Warwick Police Chief Wesley
Blanchard and another high-ranking officer resigned amid allegations
that they aided in a cover-up.
At trial, prosecutors argued
that Hornoff killed Victoria Cushman to keep his wife, Rhonda, from learning
about the affair. They said he left a party that night, went
to Cushman's apartment to kill her and then returned. Partygoers
testified he seemed dazed and out of breath.
His attorney, Joel Chase, argued
that Victoria Cushman was killed by a burglar she had startled.
Hornoff and his wife were divorced
a few years ago. At his sentencing, Hornoff professed his innocence.
"Am I guilty of something?"
he said. "Yes, I am. I broke my sacred wedding vows and
for that I will never forgive myself."
© Copyright 2003 Capitol Hill Blue
Publisher: Sheila Steele 1943-2006
• Index to injustice stories on this site
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20 YEARS - VICTIMS LIED
John Stoll: convicted of multiple child molestation counts. “It never happened” stated a victim 20 years later
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- Gerald Amirault Fantastical testimony
- Bernard Baran Massachusetts Witchunt
- Kirk Bloodsworth Freed by DNA
- Laurence Adams Evidence withheld
- Ludrate Burton Informant perjury
- Stephen Cowans Faulty forensics
- Harold Hill and Dan Young Freed by DNA
- Albert Johnson Freed by DNA
- Kenneth Marsh New evidence
- Dwayne McKinney Witness error
- James Bernard Parker Victims recant
- Peter Reilly Evidence withheld
- Peter Rose Victim lied
- Ray Krone Freed by DNA
- Houston Wrongful Convictions Nurse's missteps
- Still working on it:
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- Dennis Perry
- Tim Sandfort
- Michael Cardamone
- Kirstin Lobato
- Temujin Kensu
17 YEARS BASED ON FALSE CONFESSION
Eddie Joe Lloyd: confession obtained while in a mental hospital and on medication. DNA tests show he didn't commit the crime
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24 YEARS - MISTAKEN IDENTIFICATION
Michael Williams: convicted of rape at age 16, based solely on a mistaken eyewitness identification. DNA proved his innocence
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22 YEARS - WRONG FORENSICS
Wilton Dedge: convicted of rape, at 20, based on 2 public hairs found on the victim's bed sheets. DNA tests proved they were not his
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JUVENILE FACED LIFE IN JAIL
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Steven Manning: framed by FBI agents for a murder and kidnapping that put him on Death Row. Awarded 6.6M
20 YEARS - FRAMED BY A GRANDMA
Sylvester Smith: child molestation charges nixed. Grandma made them accuse the man who cared for them to protect a cousin. Victims recant
Calvin Willis rape case
22 years in jail. Labelled child rapist
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5 years in jail. Labelled a sex offender rapist
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