NMG’s Scher Zagier wins AP’s Best of States, frees innocent prisoner

NMG member Alan Scher Zagier not only won last week’s AP Best of the States award, but his repeated scoops on questionable prosecutorial conduct and buried

Alan Scher Zagier after his team recently won the 40-plus national title in USA Ultimate's Grandmasters, a competition mixing Frisbee and football.

Alan Scher Zagier after his team recently won the 40-plus national title in USA Ultimate’s Grandmasters, a competition mixing Frisbee and football.

evidence exonerated a Missouri man wrongly convicted of murder.

Since 2008, the St. Louis newsman had been probing and writing about Kenny Hulshof, a six-term congressman, former special state prosecutor and, at the time, GOP candidate for Missouri governor.

First Scher Zagier produced several stories about allegations Hulshof had withheld evidence and exaggerated in closing arguments in some of his cases. Then a source put him onto the case of prisoner Mark Woodworth, who’d been convicted and sentenced to life in prison in the fatal shooting of a neighbor when he was just 16. Hulshof had been the prosecutor.

Combing through the trial and appeals records, Scher Zagier suspected something was missing.

He filed an open records request for access to records kept by the Missouri Attorney General’s office — and scored. He found a series of potentially exculpatory letters exchanged among two court officials and a survivor of the shooting. Woodworth’s defense lawyers had never received them.

The Missouri Supreme Court appointed a judge to review the case,. The judge called Woodworth’s conviction a “manifest injustice,” citing Scher Zagier’s discovery of the letters. The state Attorney General’s office was pulled from the case, another special state prosector was appointed to it, and two weeks ago the murder charge against Woodworth finally was dropped.

Scher Zagier broke that story as well.