Despite false testimony and police misconduct, Vernon Bateman not exonerated

Signing this petition here is the next step in a wide community campaign to secure his full exoneration!

In 1998, Vernon T. Bateman was erroneously charged by the State of Indiana and convicted of rape, criminal deviant conduct, and confinement. At the age of 18, Bateman was given two 30-year and two 10-year sentences. Because they were to be served consecutively, the state essentially sentenced him to life in prison. After 25 years of incarceration, the misconduct and outright lies that led to his wrongful conviction started unraveling to such an extent that he was freed from captivity. In addition to the alleged victim, her brother, and many others calling for his freedom, the organized pressure from the public helped Vernon secure his release, but not his freedom.

After his release from a physical prison in 2023, Bateman immediately entered a prison in another form. Despite the overwhelming evidence proving his innocence and confirming the corruption behind his initial conviction, Bateman still lives under house arrest with severe—and costly—restrictions. He is still not able to live as a free man. This is an injustice to him, the alleged victim, and our community. We demand his immediate, full exoneration. Bateman should not have to continue to pay for a crime he did not commit!

Police forced alleged victim into identifying Bateman

In fact, in 2003 the alleged victim of the assault who originally identified Bateman gave a deposition that recanted her original testimony and pleaded for Bateman’s release. Under oath, she stated Gary Police Department officers, specifically Mary Banks, coerced her into identifying Bateman as an assailant. At one point, she interrupted to ask a question:

“Angela Truitt: Can I ask a question?
Ray Szarmach: Sure.
Angela Truitt: Didn’t they do a DNA test?
Ray Szarmach: No, that’s something else. But basically just for our purposes–
Angela Truitt: Well then why would they let somebody else–and don’t do no DNA?… So they like took my [DNA] for nothing.”

Sworn Deposition (pp. 2-3)

The rape kit was never submitted as evidence

Even though a rape kit was performed, it was destroyed and never entered into evidence. In 1998 Bateman was ready and willing to provide a DNA sample to further prove his innocence, only for the judge to deny his request.

As stated in the facts of the 2004 court case Bateman filed against the state of Indiana:

“A physician performed a pelvic examination during which samples were taken for evidence of sperm, hair, etc… The samples were placed in a sexual assault kit which was given to the police (R.P. 130). The Chief Investigating Officer, Det. Mary Banks, received the sexual assault kit from the hospital (R.p. 143). The results of the sexual assault kit were never introduced into evidence by the State and the whereabouts of the kit and the results were unknown (R.p. 244).”

Truitt ended her deposition by stating: “I do want to say that I’m sorry to Vernon… I just want them to let him go. I want them to let him out of jail.

Chris Veal, brother of alleged victim, begs for his freedom

Truitt’s family has even stepped forward to try and get Bateman exonerated. In August 2007, the alleged victim’s brother, Chris Veal, provided a notarized statement calling Bateman “a man being convicted and serving time by the testimony of a False Witness.” Veal described how his sister “was diagnosed with bipolar-sycophantic” after a 2007 incident when she claimed to have suffered a similar scenario but, after no evidence confirmed the story, told “her family that she (Angela) had just been very stressed out and went for a long walk.”

The state chose not to pursue the matter, so it’s up to us!

The judicial and legal officials of Lake County, Indiana, never pursued any of this information proving his innocence.

Bateman, who is now 44-years-old, spent over two decades fighting back against a system that imprisoned him for a crime he didn’t commit. With the help of the community, we will help him finish this struggle and begin to live his life as a free and fully exonerated man. Please sign and share this petition to demand his full exoneration immediately. A wrongful conviction of one is a wrongful conviction of all—we can’t let go, we must continue to show up on the side of justice!

Add your name to demand that Vernon T. Bateman be immediately exonerated!

Featured photo: Vernon T. Bateman (right) with two Liberation Center volunteers. Credit: Indianapolis Liberation Center.