A Michigan man spent 5 years in jail for murder when all it would have taken to prove his innocence was a receipt from Hertz.
Herbert Alford had been charged with shooting a man, but the Hertz receipt proves he couldn’t have done it. The crime occurred on October 18, 2011 at 2:54 p.m. but Hertz processed his rental just 6 minutes later at the airport. The killing did not occur near the airport.
Alford was convicted and sentenced to 30 to 60 years behind bars. He fought Hertz for years for a copy of the rental receipt and after he spent five of those 30-to-60 years confined, and after “multiple court orders and subpoenas” his conviction has finally been overturned on the basis of the Hertz receipt. Hertz erroneously maintained that the records had been destroyed, but when a judge ordered Hertz to appear in court they finally produced it.
The man’s lawyer has filed suit against Hertz. Their delay led to his wrongful conviction and losing years of his life. As his attorney puts it,
Hertz Corporation has a fully staffed legal department, so there is absolutely no reason for the company to completely ignore subpoenas and court orders for years while an innocent man languished in prison.
But Hertz’s bankruptcy complicates whether he might recover anything.
Herbert Alford spent nearly five years in lockup for a murder he didn't commit.
A rental car receipt from Hertz would've cleared his name. https://t.co/vq3bHt6twM
— Lansing State Journal (@LSJNews) March 10, 2021
I’ve written extensively about Hertz sending people to jail for stealing rental cars they’ve returned. The common factor seems to be switching out of the originally-assigned vehicle, or extending a rental, where Hertz employees didn’t properly complete the paperwork for the transaction.
One customer was held in jail for 40 days over a rental that occurred eight years earlier Another reported renting a car that Hertz had already reported stolen. It clearly wasn’t stolen because they had it in their possession and rented it.
But here Hertz had exculpatory records and failed to produce them for five years. When deciding whom to rent from consider that Hertz doesn’t make for a very good alibi. As Alford’s attorney puts it,
When Hertz had the power to help an innocent man — and their customer, no less — to be reunited with his family, they instead let him sit in prison for years… “They simply couldn’t be troubled to help Herbert Alford’s search for justice — not when he asked, and not even when the courts asked. The Hertz policy of callous inaction is simply reprehensible.