Floyd Caldwell

Convicted of armed robbery in St. Joseph, Michigan, Floyd did not match original description of robber. Victims said robber had scar on forehead, never noticed any missing fingers. Both victims identified another man, Arthur Wilkins, in a lineup. Disappointed police then talked to victims, a white retired judge and his wife, and got them to switch their identification to Caldwell. Confused elderly man testified Caldwell was same man he picked in lineup, but police concede he was not. Elderly woman saw man only for a moment, out of corner of eye through car window. At trial, Judge Chester Byrns, another local white judge and 23 year colleague of the victim, sat in judgment, declaring his long-term relationship with the witnesses would "cut no ice one way or the other." In a trial without a jury, he convicted Caldwell, and sentenced him to life in prison.

Floyd has been locked up since 1975. He was eligible for parole after 10 years, but the chairman of the state parole board, a former policeman from Floyd's home county, says they can do nothing for a prisoner who will not admit he is guilty. The one bright spot in his life is his wife Cynthia (right), who works tirelessly for Floyd's freedom. Controversial for her stands against racism and injustice, this 49 year old grandmother of 8 runs marathon races. She has been married to Floyd for 10 of his 23 years in prison.

Floyd's application for pardon is not pending before Michigan Governor John Engler. Write the governor at P.O. Box 30012, Lansing, MI 48933 to let him know what you think.

Judge Byrns found his fellow-judge's wife to be "obviously a very intelligent and observant witness." With graciousness and charm, Judge Byrns gallantly complimented the socially-prominent lady as if she had not blatantly abandoned both her identification of Wilkins and her original description of the robber. Judge Byrns went on to impose a life sentence even though no one was hurt in the robbery. Shortly after Floyd went to prison, the witness, late for a hair appointment, ran over a black youngster, 12. The girl bounced up on the hood, slipped under the wheels, and was killed by being dragged for blocks as the driver sped up to get away. The "very observant" lady said she did not notice she had hit the girl. She got a $1000 fine, which she paid the same day. She did not even receive a restriction on her driving privileges. Caldwell, in contrast, was beaten by officers so badly he had to come to court in a wheelchair.