DALLAS – Imagine you are on a jury, and are told that the suspect is the source of DNA found at a crime scene.
It’s a one-in-a-billion match.
But then, a different, more “conservative” interpretation takes that number down to just 1-in-100. The defense could call that reasonable doubt.
It’s a question of math that is putting thousands of cases across Texas under the microscope, and could lead to convictions being overturned.
After they were wrongfully convicted for the murder of an 11-year-old girl and subsequently forced to spend over 30 years in prison, 51-year-old Henry McCollum and his 47-year-old half-brother Leon Brown have been freed and compensated for the life-changing mistake.
I’ll never forget how lonely I felt when the jury announced its guilty verdict and the courtroom erupted in applause. I thought, how could this happen? It felt surreal, but soon after reality sunk in: I could spend the rest of my life in prison until the state of Maryland executed me. I spent eight years, 11 months and 19 days locked away — two of those years on death row — for a rape and murder that I did not commit, before post-conviction DNA testing proved my innocence.
The project, started in 1992, has already freed 300 innocent people in the US
Kirk Odom was convicted of a 1981 rape and robbery after a woman identified him as her attacker and an FBI specialist testified that hair on her nightgown was consistent with hair on Odom’s head.
But DNA testing some 30 years later affirmed what Odom long had maintained: The hair wasn’t his; neither was the semen left on a pillowcase and robe. A felony conviction that imprisoned him for decades was overturned in 2012 by a judge who declared it a “grave miscarriage of justice.”
Imagine being convicted of a crime for which you are not guilty—not some minor crime, but one of the most heinous crimes imaginable: the rape and murder of a young girl. Would you feel shock and anger at the injustice? Disappointment in the legal system that could make such a horrible error? Sadness and depression at the thought of spending time imprisoned for a crime that someone else committed? Probably all of those emotions and more. At your sentencing hearing, the situation gets worse; you are sentenced to death. Now, this horrible crime will prematurely claim the life of two innocents: the young girl and you.
John Hanlon, executive director and legal director at the Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield, remembers going to an Illinois county to look at evidence in a sexual assault case.
He was presented with a bag that contained not only the clothing of the victim but also the clothing of a second suspect in the case. Because of the contamination, he wasn’t able to use DNA evidence in an effort to clear his client, who had been convicted of the crime.
“We would like to address the status of biological evidence after a conviction,” Hanlon told The State Journal-Register editorial board Wednesday. Hanlon appeared before the board along with Larry Golden, founding director of the project.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 21 years for the rape and killing of a mother of four was awarded $6 million Thursday from the state of Connecticut.
The state claims commissioner issued the award to 44-year-old Kenneth Ireland under Connecticut’s wrongful incarceration compensation law, saying in a report that “no words or dollar amount will suffice to give him back the time that he lost and the misery that he endured.”
Joseph Sledge, 70, addresses members of the media after being released from jail in Columbus County, N.C., on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, after serving nearly four decades behind bars for two slayings he didn’t commit.
The ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law’s Post-conviction Clinic said that it, the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law’s Wrongful Conviction Clinic, and the nonprofit Justice Project, Inc. were awarded a USD935,000 grant from the Department of Justice.
Arguing that the state’s highest criminal court watered down a law designed to free innocent people from prison, a state senator vowed Wednesday to introduce, and pass, legislation allowing for expanded DNA testing of crime-scene evidence.
Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said a February ruling by the Court of Criminal Appeals interpreted the 2011 law too narrowly, “making it difficult for folks to secure DNA testing that can prove their innocence and identify actual perpetrators.”
A bill sponsored by assemblymen Charles Mainor (D-Hudson) and Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) aimed at making it easier for the wrongfully convicted to be exonerated using DNA evidence has been approved by an assembly panel.
Mainor noted the recent case of North Carolina half-brothers released after serving 13 years in prison for a crime they did not commit.
AMERICA HAS MORE prisoners than anywhere else in the world.
Currently there are 2.2 million prisoners in America. That is 1.6 million more than in Russia, 2.1 million more than the UK and 600,000 more than China.
Michael Phillips had long ago given up trying to clear his name. At 57, he was a registered sex offender, living in a nursing home, wheelchair-bound from severe sickle cell anemia.
Then in May, two police officers delivered news that Phillips says only God could have ordained: Dallas County, Texas, prosecutors had proved through DNA testing that he had spent 12 years in prison for a rape he hadn’t committed.
A D.C. man convicted of raping and murdering a woman in 1982 has been exonerated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office due to new DNA testing that proved his innocence.