On November 17, 2022, Raymond Flanks, 59, was finally released after his 1983 murder conviction. He was charged twice with the murder of Martin Carnesi.
Young Flanks, aged just 20, was convicted of Murder of Martin Carnesi during a armed robbery. After about four decades, lawyers discovered that there had been inconsistencies in the 1985 decision on the case.
Raymond Flanks was tried twice for the crime and convicted by a jury in 1985. He eventually gained his freedom after Judge Rhonda Goode-Douglas overturned the 1985 verdict. After exiting the courthouse, Flanks said:
“Though it was justice delayed, it was justice.”
Who was Raymond Flanks and what happened in 1983?
According to Nola, in 1983, just before Christmas, the Pines Village area of New Orleans was hit by a series of robberies of elderly women. In all of these cases, a black man wearing a shower cap was identified as the perpetrator. This series of robberies ended when Martin Carnesi was shot dead by the same black villain on December 17, 1983.
About five days after the incident, police arrested Raymond Flanks, then 20, as he was fleeing an armed robbery at a grocery store. Flanks was accused of being the shooter with a shower cap. The arrest was made on the basis of the testimony of Faye Carnesi, Martin’s wife, who was the only eyewitness at the scene.
Raymond Flanks faced two lawsuits. In 1984, the jury could not reach a verdict, even when it was argued that the murder weapon was Flanks’ weapon.
In 1985, however, this argument was dismissed after the murder weapon was re-examined in a federal laboratory. The second trial took place the same year that Flanks was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Only eyewitness was wrong, resulting in about 40 years in prison for Raymond Flanks
More than 35 years later, it was finally discovered that Faye Carnesi had been wrong and had received salacious help from John Dillmann, the NOPD homicide detective at the time. According to the lawyers, he falsified and manipulated Carnesis’ accounts to get Raymond to fill the bill.
After several unsuccessful attempts to appeal the verdict, the IPNO decided in 2021 to take Flanks’ case.
IPNO stated that there had been many cases in New Orleans where black suspects were wrongly convicted despite having white eyewitnesses. In most of these cases, evidence was withheld from the suspects’ lawyers. The IPNO argued that something similar also happened in Raymond’s case.
Attorneys for both sides agree that Dillmann “changed the offender’s age, the offender’s car age, the offender’s gun appearance, and the offender’s mustache appearance to match the state’s case.”
Also, at the time of the incident, Faye Carnesi recalled that the perpetrator had white patches on his face. It was also claimed that Raymond had no such patches and therefore did not fit Faye’s description.
In an interview, John Dillmann said:
“Everyone since the 70s has taken on the task. How can they let the guy go without a hearing or someone’s side of the story? … How can they just say, “Well, he’s saying that, she’s dead, and that doesn’t line up with what was said on the grand jury, so we can get the guy out of jail without even asking?”
After overturning the verdict, Judge Rhonda Goode-Douglas mentioned that there would be no further retrial in the case because the only witness, Faye Carnesi, had passed away. Goode-Douglas further noted:
“This court finds that Mr. Flanks did not receive the justice he deserved… I hope this court and this department represent what justice should be like.”
Carnesis’ family still believe that Raymond Flanks was the real culprit and that Faye couldn’t have been wrong.