A man who had previously been exonerated of a 2012 double murder pled guilty in Philadelphia court last month to aggravated assault and illegal possession of a firearm stemming from an incident in the early spring of 2021 in which he shot a victim twice in the leg.
James Frazier, 30, pled guilty on Oct. 17 to those two first-degree felony charges, while several other charges were dropped, apparently as part of the plea deal. Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Diana L. Anhalt sentenced him to a maximum of 23 months of confinement in the county jail. He would have to serve half of the sentence to be parole eligible.
In 2013, Frazier was convicted for the 2012 double murders of Rodney Ramseur and Latia Jones at Ramseur’s home on West Sparks Street in Philadelphia.
Then in 2019, the Conviction Integrity Unit of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office successfully exonerated him, in large part because the police detective who secured Frazier’s confession was Philip Nordo.
Nordo’s reputation and character later were reduced to ashes, as he was convicted earlier this year of using his badge to exploit witnesses and informants, often sexually.
In the most recent incident, Frazier was accused of shooting a man twice in the leg, possibly as part of a drug deal gone wrong, according to the initial police narrative. Frazier’s own mother, as well as facial identification software, identified him using surveillance video from the convenience store where most of the incident occurred.
Broad + Liberty previously reported on Frazier’s arrest in 2021. His conviction and sentencing come as another high-profile exoneration of Krasner’s is under fresh scrutiny.
Jahmir Harris, 32, was a free man just weeks ago because of an exoneration, but is now in police custody and is expected to be charged for the September murder of Charles “Chali Khan” Gossett.
Harris was previously serving a life sentence after being convicted in the 2012 murder of a man in a Walgreens parking lot at Oregon Avenue near 23rd Street.
Krasner’s Conviction Integrity Unit was able to get Harris released in March 2021, but only after Judge Rose Marie DeFino-Nastasi put numerous problems she had with the whole affair on the record.
“Instead, [Judge DeFino-Nastasi] admonished Patricia Cummings, chief of the District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit, for her handling of the case, calling her theory pointing to an alternate suspect ‘unsubstantiated’ and her filings ‘utterly inappropriate’ and designed to ‘harass and influence the court.’” according to a report from the Inquirer.
Krasner has touted the Conviction Integrity Unit as one of his top accomplishments since taking office in early 2020.
For example, a newsletter from the district attorney’s office in 2021 highlights the number of exonerations under Krasner’s work, and quotes a criminal justice academic who praised the efforts.
“This report [on the Conviction Integrity Unit] shows that the Philadelphia DA’s Office is now [sic] gold standard for what a conviction integrity unit should be. By putting an experienced defense attorney at the helm and giving her the independence to report to him directly, Larry Krasner has created an institutional model that allows his CIU to operate without the conflicts of interest and mission that have plagued other CIUs that have relied on prosecutors to police themselves,” said Professor Rachel Barkow, Director of the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at NYU School of Law. “The results are powerful. The Philadelphia CIU is not just righting wrongful convictions, but also correcting unjust sentences and doing the kind of systemic reviews of misconduct to prevent these injustices from happening in the future. I hope every DA in the country takes note and learns from this.”
Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use his encrypted email at email@example.com. @shepherdreports