Journalist Edward Mowery Gets a Scoop and Frees Louis Hoffner Part 2

About the journalist and investigative reporter Edward Mowery who helped free Louis Hoffner an innocent man.



Often working on his own time, Mowery tracked down members of the jury, including the foreman, and got them to agree that a new trial should be held. He reported that a cabbie who was with Hoffner at the time of the killing was threatened by police with the loss of his license if he testified.

Despite the new evidence, all motions for retrial were denied.

Mowery's nose for injustice was matched by his--and his paper's--eye for melodrama. After a new trial was refused in June, 1947, the World-Telegram's front page blared: I'LL WAIT FOR HIM, LIFER'S GIRL VOWS. Of Hoffner, Mowery wrote: "The bewildered youth had been jettisoned to oblivion by an apathetic, well-oiled legal mechanism that offers no succor to the penniless."

Mowery went beyond his assignment throughout his lengthy crusade. He helped from the Hoffner Committee, which included many prominent New Yorkers, to fight for Hoffner's release. Still Hoffner's appeals went unheeded by the courts.

The clinching piece of evidence was found by Harry G. Anderson, the former assistant district attorney who had been on Hoffner's side long before Mowery got on the case. The lone identifying witness had testified at the trial that he had filed to spot Hoffner in the first lineup because he did not see his profile. But stenographic minutes of the lineup, which were never introduced at the trial, showed clearly that the witness did see Hoffner's profile during that first lineup. Judge Farrell ruled that this evidence, which could easily have resulted in Hoffner's acquittal, should have been introduced at his trial.

Today Louis Hoffner lives in Lake Ronkonkoma, on Long Island, and works for the postal service. In 1955 he was awarded $112,291 by the state for false imprisonment.

"I offered Mowery $10,000 and he wouldn't take a cent from me," Hoffner said recently. "He was a wonderful guy. I asked him what I could do for him, and he said, 'Give me a plaque; just show me what you feel.'"

The plaque read: "To Ed Mowery, the man who brought me back from the grave."

In Print: "In a drama-packed courtroom in Long Island City today Louis Hoffner watched the legal shackles of 12 long years melt away as Queens District Attorney T. Vincent Quinn eloquently pleaded for the lifer's freedom.

"A few minutes later, the diminutive convict, no longer branded a murderer, heard Judge Peter T. Farrell grant Mr. Quinn's motion.

"Mr. Hoffner stared a moment at the bench. He gulped and smiled." (New York World-Telegram and Sun, Nov. 21, 1952)

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