One, Marquetta Thomas, was his girlfriend’s sister; another was a jailhouse snitch; and a third was a Taco Bell employee.
All three later admitted they lied: the Taco Bell employee to satisfy persistent detectives, and the snitch to reduce his own sentence.
‘Basically, I made it up, just to get him out of the picture,’ said Thomas, who was the first to implicate Inman.
He was in a volatile romantic relationship with her younger sister, WSB reported.
‘I was like, ‘I’m going to get this guy,” Thomas admitted.
At trial, the judge refused to allow Inman’s lawyers to bring in witnesses who said that another man, Hercules Brown, who worked at the Taco Bell – no relation to Donna Brown – had admitted to the killing.
Inman always insisted he was innocent, but in 2001 he was sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole.
A decade later, the Georgia Innocence Project took up his case, after DNA evidence revealed that a ski mask worn during the robbery had Hercules Brown’s DNA on it.
A similar homemade ski mask was found in Hercules Brown’s car after another attempted armed robbery.
By this point, Hercules Brown was already in prison, having been convicted of the murder of two more people in an Adel convenience store two years after Donna Brown was killed.
In 2014 they petitioned for a new trial, but the case was rejected, without explanation.
In 2017, the case became the subject of a podcast created by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Inman’s lawyers from Troutman Pepper filed yet another appeal, in 2018, asking that Inman’s conviction be overturned on grounds he is actually innocent.
The state Attorney General’s Office tried to get the latest appeal dismissed, but the state Supreme Court allowed it to proceed – with David Nahmias, the presiding justice on the Supreme Court, saying that of the more than 1,500 murder cases he had reviewed, this was among the most troubling.
‘Of the multitude of cases in which a new trial has been denied, Inman’s case is the one that causes me the most concern that an innocent person remains convicted and sentenced to serve the rest of his life in prison,’ Nahmias wrote.
In November this year, a North Georgia judge found that prosecutors withheld critical evidence at Inman’s trial and orders a new trial.
On Monday, hours after Cook County prosecutors dismissed the murder charges against Inman, he walked out of prison a free man.
‘I can breathe now,’ his mother said.
‘For 23 years, I’ve felt like my life was on hold.’