State drops charges against Justin Chapman, subject of 'Breakdown'

State prosecutors announced Wednesday they will not retry Justin Chapman for arson and murder, more than a year after his convictions for those offenses were thrown out and he was granted a new trial by Georgia’s highest court.

A lengthy court filing, submitted by the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, noted that key testimony initially relied upon by Haralson County prosecutors has since been discredited or completely contradicted. It also stated there is no other evidence to corroborate the initial testimony used to convict Chapman. The motion also does not implicate Chapman for the crimes in any way.

Chapman spent more than eight years in prison after his conviction of the crimes.

The case against Chapman, who has always maintained his innocence, was chronicled last year in “Breakdown,” a seven-part podcast by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The podcast was given that name because the criminal justice system broke down repeatedly in Chapman’s case.

“I’m just delighted,” Michael Caplan, one of Chapman’s lawyers, said shortly after the motion was signed by the judge who presided over Chapman’s trial in 2007. “They did the right thing. I’m so happy for Justin and his family.”

Last year, the Georgia Supreme Court granted Chapman a new trial because prosecutors withheld critical evidence that could have been used in Chapman’s defense. The filing on Wednesday by state prosecutors all but ends the case against him. He has been free on bond since the state high court’s ruling.

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