New evidence uncovered by true crime podcast Proof has led to the release of two men after more than two decades in prison.
The investigative podcast focused on the 1996 murder case of Brian Bowling, which led to the convictions of Darrell Lee Clark and Cain Joshua Storey for murder and conspiracy to commit murder, for which they were sentenced to life imprisonment.
“You never think something like that is going to happen to you,” said Clark. “Never would I have thought I would spend more than half my life in prison, especially for something I didn’t do. I’m just glad the truth finally came to light after 25 years. I’m so thankful for the Georgia Innocence Project and Proof podcast for what they did. Without them, I would still be in prison.”
The podcast is hosted by Susan Simpson, host of true crime podcast Undisclosed, and Red Marble Media executive producer Jacinda Davis. The pair reopened the investigation, interviewing key witnesses from the trial throughout 2021 and in March this year, they released the first episode of the podcast, with interviews from Bowling’s aunt, uncle, sister, and her husband to talk about the real events that unravelled on the night Bowling was shot in the head during a game of Russian roulette.
Through their investigation, Simpson and Davis learned new evidence that disputed the accounts of two of the state’s key witnesses, including a party hostess who claims she was coerced by authorities into giving false statements confirming that Clark and Storey pre-planned the murder. The other was from a hearing and speech impaired witness who was misunderstood at the trial as identifying Clark running through Bowling’s yard on the night he was shot, when in fact he was talking about an entirely different shooting.
“It took us a long time to talk to both of those witnesses,” Davis told CNN. “The podcast was happening in almost real time as an investigation. When we finally found and were able to talk to those two witnesses, it really solidified that both of these guys had been wrongly convicted.”
The evidence led to Clark’s attorneys filing motions in September stating that his conviction was based on false evidence. Clark was eventually exonerated from all charges and released from prison while Storey - who initially brought Bowling the gun - pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was released with time served.
A new episode of Proof with interviews from Clark and Storey is planned to release on 18 December with full updates to the story.
True crime podcast Serial has also played a part this year in re-opening old investigations, leading to the release of Adnan Syed after being convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 2000. In 2014, the podcast’s first season brought global attention to Syed’s case, with over 5m downloads.
Since the 12 episode podcast ended, Serial host Sarah Keonig has been following the re-opening of the case from 2015, with new episodes that covered the three days of Syed’s hearing in 2016 where his attorney presented new evidence on why his conviction should be overturned. Keonig also covered details of his release in September 2022.