Feb 27, 2013 - by - 0 Comments

Free Men

FREE MEN

Since the first time DNA evidence helped overturn a conviction in 1989, more than 300 people have been cleared of crimes they did not commit with the help of such evidence. Here is a look at cases where DNA evidence has helped overturn convictions of those awaiting execution on Death Row.

The Numbers

  • 301 - Post-conviction DNA exonerations in the U.S.
  • 4,036 - Total number of years in prison served by people since exonerated through DNA
  • 13.6 years - Average length of time served
  • 18 - People exonerated through DNA who served time on Death Row

Nicholas Yarris

Where: Pennsylvania

Crime: Dec. 16, 1981, abduction and murder of 33-year-old woman

Convicted: 1982

Conviction based on: Eyewitness misidentification, informants

Exonerated: 2003

Years between: 21

Reason: Charges dismissed after DNA testing revealed body fluids found at the scene were not Yarris'

Curtis McCarty

Where: Oklahoma

Crime: Dec. 10, 1982, stabbing and strangling of an 18-year-old woman

Convicted: 1986

Conviction based on: Alleged misconduct; invalidated or improper forensic science, specifically dubious hair testing

Exonerated: 2007

Years between: 21

Reason: Charges dismissed after modern DNA showed that evidence recovered from scrapings of the victim's fingernails did not match McCarty

Charles Fain

Where: Idaho

Crime: Feb. 24, 1982, rape and drowning of 9-year-old girl

Convicted: 1983

Conviction based on: Faulty forensic evidence based on matching hairs

Exonerated: 2001

Years between: 18

Reason: Charges dismissed

Dennis Williams

Where: Illinois

Crime: May 11, 1978, abduction and killing of a young couple and rape of the woman

Convicted: 1979, along with three other men

Conviction based on: Eyewitness misidentification; false confessions; insufficient or improper forensic science; inadequacy of counsel

Exonerated: 1996

Years between: 17

Reason: Charges dismissed when DNA evidence exonerated Williams and the others, including Verneal Jimerson, who'd also been sentenced to death

Earl Washington

Where: Virginia

Crime: June 1982 rape and murder of 19-year-old mother of three

Convicted: 1984

Conviction based on: False confessions/admissions; insufficient or improper forensic science

Exonerated: 2000

Years between: 16

Reason: Pardoned

Damon Thibodeaux

Where: Louisiana

Crime: July 1996 rape and murder of Thibodeaux's 14-year-old cousin

Convicted: 1997

Conviction based on: Eyewitness misidentification; false confessions/admissions

Exonerated: 2012

Years between: 15

Reason: Charges dismissed

Frank Lee Smith

Where: Florida

Crime: April 15, 1985, rape and murder of 8-year-old girl inside her home

Convicted: 1986

Conviction based on: Eyewitness misidentification

Exonerated: 2000 (Smith died in prison before his name was cleared)

Years between: 14

Reason: Charges dismissed; DNA evidence eventually led to conviction of another man

Michael Blair

Where: Texas

Crime: Sept. 4, 1993, strangling death of 7-year-old girl

Convicted: 1994

Conviction based on: Eyewitness misidentification; insufficient or improper forensic science

Exonerated: 2008

Years between: 14

Reason: Charges dismissed

Kennedy Brewer

Where: Mississippi

Crime: May 1992, abduction, rape and murder of his girlfriend's daughter

Convicted: 1995

Conviction based on: Highly questionable bite-mark evidence from discredited analyst

Exonerated: 2008

Years between: 13

Reason: Charges dismissed after DNA implicated another man, who eventually was convicted of the killing and another killing of a young girl

Verneal Jimerson

Where: Illinois

Crime: May 11, 1978, abduction and killing of a young couple and rape of the woman

Convicted: 1985, initially cleared by recanted testimony, then convicted by reinstated testimony

Conviction based on: Eyewitness misidentification; false confessions; insufficient or improper forensic science

Exonerated: 1996

Years between: 11

Reason: Charges dismissed when DNA evidence exonerated Jimerson and the others, including Dennis Williams, who'd also been sentenced to death

Ronald Williamson

Where: Oklahoma

Crime: Dec. 8, 1982, murder of 21-year-old woman

Convicted: 1988

Conviction based on: False confessions/admissions; alleged government misconduct; informants; inept counsel; insufficient or improper forensic science

Exonerated: 1999

Years between: 11

Reason: Charges dismissed after another man, who had testified against Williamson, was identified by DNA

Rolando Cruz

Where: Illinois

Crime: Feb. 23, 1983, abduction rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl

Convicted: 1985, along with co-defendant Alejandro Hernandez

Conviction based on: False confessions/admissions; government misconduct

Exonerated: 1995

Years between: 10

Reason: Acquitted

Alejandro Hernandez

Where: Illinois

Crime: Feb. 23, 1983, abduction rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl

Convicted: 1985, along with co-defendant Rolando Cruz

Conviction based on: False confessions/admissions; government misconduct

Exonerated: 1995

Years between: 10

Reason: Charges dismissed

Robert Lee Miller Jr.

Where: Oklahoma

Crime: Separate 1986 rapes and murder of two elderly women

Convicted: 1988

Conviction based on: False confessions/admissions; alleged government misconduct; insufficient or improper forensic science

Exonerated: 1998

Years between: 10

Reason: Charges dismissed after DNA cleared him and another man confessed to both crimes

Ronald Jones

Where: Illinois

Crime: March 10, 1985, murder of a woman

Convicted: 1989

Conviction based on: Eyewitness misidentification; false confessions/admissions; alleged government misconduct; insufficient or improper forensic science

Exonerated: 1999

Years between: 10

Reason: Charges dismissed

Ray Krone

Where: Arizona

Crime: Dec. 29, 1991, murder of a 36-year-old woman in the bar where she worked

Convicted: 1992

Conviction based on: Alleged government misconduct; insufficient or improper forensic science (bite-mark evidence)

Exonerated: 2002

Years between: 10

Reason: Charges dismissed after DNA evidence found on the victim was connected to another man

Kirk Bloodsworth

Where: Maryland

Crime: July 1984 rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl

Convicted: 1984

Conviction based on: Eyewitness misidentification; alleged government misconduct

Exonerated: 1993

Years between: 9

Reason: Charges dismissed and pardoned after DNA testing ruled him out as the killer; Innocence Protection Act of 2003 established the Kirk Bloodsworth Postconviction DNA Testing Program

Ryan Matthews

Where: Louisiana

Crime: April 1997 shooting death of convenience store owner

Convicted: 1999

Conviction based on: Eyewitness misidentification; false confessions/admissions

Exonerated: 2004

Years between: 5

Reason: Charges dismissed after DNA exonerated him and led to another suspect

SOURCE

The Innocence Project

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