Friday, December 30, 2011

Wrongful Conviction of Jesus Christ Versus Wrongful Convictions of Innocent People in the World

 TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. World Alliance of Reformed Churches Opinion on Wrongful Convictions of Innocent People,
2. Jesus Christ was wrongly convicted,
3. Jewish hatred against Jesus Christ,
4. Saddest innocent convictions in the world,
5. Most shocking wrongful convictions,
6. Death penalty of innocent people due to wrongful convictions,
7. 10,000 innocent people convicted each year, study estimates,
8. Truth reveals in justice: wrongful conviction of innocent people,
9. A constituency for the innocent: about the center on wrongful
    Convictions,
10. Innocence project: reasons for wrongful convictions,
11. The causes of wrongful conviction,
12. Lists of innocent people wrongly convicted of crimes,
13. What is circumstantial evidence? How reliable is circumstantial evidence?
14. Lists of innocent people wrongly convicted of crimes in India (only by
      Circumstantial evidence) (High Court & Supreme Court cases),

1. WORLD ALLIANCE OF REFORMED CHURCHES OPINION ON WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE (“Shameful record of convicting innocent people”). Source:-Update Magazine, Editor: Paraic Reamonn. WARC, Geneva, March 2000. Vol.10, No.1.

DEAD MEN WALKING FREE. Anthony Porter spent 16 years on death row and was 5 hours away from execution by lethal injection when another man confessed to the murders for which he was falsely convicted. Two days later he walked free from his prison in Chicago, Illinois. “Them crooked cops framed me,” he said. “They didn’t care nothing for the truth. It hurt me so much. My life is torn apart.” That was in February 1999.

On January 31, 2000, Republican governor George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions in the state of Illinois. Previously, an enthusiast for death by lethal injection, he was won over by the Porter case and others like it. Illinois, said Ryan, had a “shameful record of convicting innocent people.” Since the death penalty was re-introduced in the state in 1977, 13 inmates on death row have been proved innocent – more than have been executed.



Ryan’s decision opened a floodgate. 15 of 38 US states with the death penalty announced that they would review their policies. On February 11, the justice department launched an investigation into whether capital punishment is inflicted disproportionately on black people. On the same day, Senator Patrick Leahy introduced a bill designed to improve defendants’ chances of proving their innocence. “America,” editorialized the New York Times, “is at last beginning to grapple honestly with the profound flaws of the death penalty system.”
 
Porter owes his freedom to an undergraduate journalism class in Chicago. As a class project, students at Northwestern University’s Medill school of Journalism re-examined his conviction. Visiting the scene of the crime, they found that a key “eye-witness” couldn’t possibly have seen what he claimed to have seen: there was a fence in the way, when confronted, the witness promptly admitted that the police had “threatened, harassed and intimidatedhim into falsely identifying Porter. But, incredibly, the students didn’t stop there. They tracked down the real killer and got him to confess.

 So far, the US debate is not about the morality of Capital punishment, but about executing the innocent. Since 1976, when the Supreme Court re-instated capital punishment, 81 convicts on death row have been found innocent and released – some, like Porter, within hours of being killed. It is highly probable that some of the 612 people executed during the same period (1976-1999) were also innocent.

For the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, capital punishment itself is the issue. The 22nd general council (Seoul 1989) expressed deep concern about the increasing use of the death penalty for political actions, capital crimes such as murder, and other violations of the social order as presently determined by legitimate and illegitimate governments…we are convinced that the death penalty should be universally abolished.”

This conviction was grounded in a theological understanding of the justice of Godwhich demands that the inherent worth of every human life be accorded dignity, not contingent on the moral rectitude of human beings.”  The council said that, “any action that diminished the value of human life is abhorrent to WARC and its member churches.” 

Amnesty International’s US Director, Dr. William Schultz, puts it more simply: “just as we don’t steal from the thief or rape the rapist, we ought not to kill the killer.”


2. JESUS CHRIST WAS WRONGLY CONVICTED
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

A Spanish judge has belatedly ruled that Jesus Christ suffered a miscarriage of justice at the hands of Pontius Pilate but could have faced other charges.

In his putative Court of Appeal, Raul Calderon, a judge from the Andalucian town of Jaen, maintained: "The procedure in the case against Jesus was replete with legal irregularities, and the death sentence of crucifixion ordered by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate was unjust. According to the law of the first years of the 1st century, Jesus Christ should have been absolved."

The judge said Jesus's "fundamental crime" was of lese-majeste as demonstrated in his acts against Roman authority and sovereignty, offences for which the penalty was death. According to the judge, Jesus could have been tried for unlawful association, harbouring criminals and civil discord.

In a published essay, Judge Calderon states that the first procedural irregularity followed Jesus's arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was interrogated well into the night when he should have been questioned only during the day.

Judge Calderon cleared Jesus of the charge of blasphemy, which was punishable by death under Jewish law. "Jesus did not blaspheme as he did not use the name of God," he ruled.


3. JEWISH HATRED AGAINST JESUS CHRIST
http://www.truthinhistory.org/

Was there an organized Jewish conspiracy against the life and ministry of our Savior - the Lord Jesus Christ? Let the Scriptures speak for themselves! 

". . . of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sin always: For the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost." I Thessalonians 2:14-16 

In the earthly life and ministry of our Lord, He encountered much opposition as He traveled throughout the ancient land of Palestine in doing the work that His Father sent Him to do. During the first century the land of Palestine where Jesus lived and ministered was divided into three Roman provinces. They were Galilee to the north where Jesus lived as a child and began His ministry; Samaria located in central Palestine where He ministered to the woman at the well in John chapter 4; and Judea to the south where He encountered most of His opposition from the leadership of the Jewish nation and was eventually illegally tried, falsely convicted and crucified as a result of the scheming efforts of the Jews and their manipulation of the Roman civil authorities.


In the Gospel of John the Apostle records the masterful discourse of Jesus that He gave concerning His equality with God and His manifestation as being the living bread sent down from heaven (chapters 5-6). After giving this discourse and seeing the open anger of the Jews in response to His message, He left Judea where Jewish Phariseeism was in total control, and returned to Galilee which offered Him more personal safety. St.John records:

"After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: For He would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill Him." (7:1, 11:53-54) 

The Jewish leadership, which included Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, Chief Priests and the Sanhedrin heckled and taunted the Lord Jesus as He conducted His teaching and healing ministry among the people. Their purpose was to catch Him in heresy and blasphemy and eventually use it as evidence against Him at His trial (Luke 20:19-26). 

"... of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sin always: For the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost." I Thessalonians 2:14-16 

3.1. Reasons Why the Jews Crucified Jesus
  • He claimed Kingship - John 18:33-37; John 19:12-22
  • Telling the truth - Luke 4:21-29, John 8:40
  • Healing on the Sabbath - Matthew 12:9-14, John 5:16
  • Envy - Matthew 27:18, Mark 15:10
  • Blasphemy -
  • (A) Forgiving sins - Matthew 9:1-3, Mark 2:1-7
  • (B) Claiming equality with God - Matthew 26:59-66, Mark 14:61-64, John 10:25-33; 19:7

3.2. Jewish Accusations Against Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15)
  • Keeper of bad company - Matthew 9:10-11
  • Of poor, common-stock - Mark 6:3
  • Laborer - Mark 6:3
  • Possessed of Beelzebub - Mark 3:22
  • From the wrong neighborhood - John 7:41, 52
  • A deceiver and hypocrite - John 7:10-13
  • Unlearned - John 7:14-15
  • Had a persecution complex - John 7:20
  • Demon possessed--full of the devil - John 7:20, 10:20, 8:48, 52
  • Provoker to anger - John 7:23
  • A divider of the people - John 7:43
  • Unpopular, not recommended by rulers, unrecognized by leaders - John 7:45-49 (v. 48)
  • False prophet - John 7:50-52
  • Liar, falsifier - John 8:13
  • A bastard - John 8:19
  • Had suicidal tendencies - John 8:22
  • A half-breed - John 8:48
  • Dishonorable - John 8:49
  • Boaster, false representative of God, impostor, self-made man - John 8:53
  • Ungodly, or cometh not from God - John 9:13-16
  • A sinner - John 9:13-16
  • Crazy, insane - John 10:20
  • Perplexing, causing doubt - John 10:22-24
  • A blasphemer - John 10:31-33
3.3. The Jews Killed Jesus Christ
(v. 18, I Thessalonians 2:14-15)

3.4. Jewish Hatred and Murder Attempts on the Life of Jesus Christ
  • Matthew 2:16 - As a child Herod tried to kill Him.
  • Matthew 12:14, Mark 3:6 - Pharisees held a council with the Herodians to discuss destroying Jesus because He healed a man on the Sabbath day.
  • Luke 4:28-30 - Attempted to throw Him off the hill because of His sermon.
  • John 5:16 - The Jews persecuted Jesus and sought to kill Him for healing the impotent man on the Sabbath day.
  • John 5:18 - Jews sought to kill Jesus because He claimed equality with God.
  • John 7:30-32 - The Jewish plot to arrest Jesus with intent to kill Him for claiming He was from God.
  • John 7:25 - It was common knowledge that the Jews sought to kill Jesus.
  • John 7:40-44 - Some people desired to arrest Jesus with intent to kill Him.
  • John 8:59 - Jews attempted to kill Jesus by stoning Him for claiming that He was God.
  • John 10:31 - The Jews again attempt to kill Jesus by stoning for claiming His Deity.
  • John 10:39 - The Jews sought to take Jesus for proving His Deity.
  • John 11:47 - The chief priests and Pharisees plot against Jesus.
  • John 11:53-54 - The Jews make a determined effort to kill Jesus.
  • John 11:55-57 - The Jews sought Jesus even at the Passover Feast.
  • John 12:9-11 - The Jews even desire to kill Lazarus because of their hatred for Jesus.
  • John 18:3, 10, 12 - Jesus was arrested by Jewish soldiers.
  • John 18:13-14 - Jesus was tried by Jewish leaders who had already decided on his guilt.
  • John 18:36 - Jesus acknowledges that it was the Jews who would kill Him.
  • John 18:38-40, 19:1-7, 12-15 - The Jews are adamant in their desire to kill Jesus.
  • John 19:11 - Jesus acknowledges a lesser and a greater sin in those who condemned Him to death.
  • John 19:16-18 - The Jews led Jesus away to be crucified.
3.5. Concerning the names of Jesus, the Talmud refers to Him as:
  • Immach Schemo Vezikro which means, "May His name and memory be blotted out."
  • Otho Isch = "That man"
  • Peloni = "A certain one"
  • Naggar Bar Naggar = "The carpenter son of a carpenter"
  • Ben Charsch etaim = "The son of a wood worker"
  • Talui = "The one who was hanged"

3.6. Concerning Christ Himself, the Talmud accuses Him of being:
  • Illegitimate
  • Possessed by the soul of Esau and being Esau himself.
  • A fool and insane
  • A conjurer and a magician
  • An idolater
  • A seducer
  • Crucified For His crimes
  • Buried in Hell
  • Wrongfully worshipped
  • An idol

3.7. The Talmud condemns the teaching of Christ as follows:
  • Falsehood
  • Heresy
  • Impossible to observe
  • Illegitimate
  • Possessed by the soul of Esau and being Esau himself.
  • A fool and insane
  • A conjurer and a magician
  • An idolater
  • A seducer
  • Crucified For His crimes
  • Buried in Hell
  • Wrongfully worshipped
  • An idol
3.8. The Talmud condemns the teaching of Christ as follows:
  • Falsehood
  • Heresy
  • Impossible to observe

    "Mr. Freedman publishes the Talmud's description of the birth and death of Christ as follows:

    'Jesus is referred to as the son of Pandira, a soldier.
    Illegitimate and conceived during menstruation.
    Hanged on the eve of Passover, seduced, corrupted and destroyed Israel.
    Died like a beast and buried in animal's dirt heap.' 

    Taken from Defender's Magazine October 1957, which quoted Freedman's "Facts are Facts". 

    3.9. The innocence of Christ was declared by:
    • Pilate's wife - Matthew 27:19
    • Judas Iscariot - Matthew 27:4
    • Pilate - Matthew 27:24; Luke 23:22; John 19:6
    • Thief on the cross - Luke 23:41
    • Roman soldiers - Mark 15:39
    ·         For Fear of the Jews, John 7:13; 9:22; 12:42; 19:38; 20:19;  Acts 13:5.

    (Taken from "The Talmud Unmasked" By Rev. I.B. Pranaitis 1892 pp28-41. The Talmud is a vast literary work written by Jewish Rabbis that contains civil and religious law. It is not a part of the inspired sacred Scripture. The Palestinian Talmud was written in the 3rd century AD, while the Babylonian Talmud was written around 500 AD. It contains discussions concerning every aspect of Jewish life and thought. The Talmud was written by Jewish Rabbis who were men of 'perverse minds and destitute of the truth').

    4. SADDEST INNOCENT CONVICTIONS IN THE WORLD:

    4.1. Paula Gray

    Incident Year: 1978
    Jurisdiction: IL
    Charge: Murder, Rape, Perjury
    Conviction: Murder, Rape, Perjury
    Sentence: 50 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1978
    Exoneration Year: 2002
    Sentence Served: 9 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Yes
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, False Confessions / Admissions, Bad Lawyering, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes



    Paula Gray was convicted of murder, rape, and perjury in what is now known as the Ford Heights Four case. Then just years old, her own statements were used to secure her conviction and that of four other men - Kenneth Adams, Verneal Jimerson, Willie Rainge, and Dennis Williams. Incorrect serological testimony contributed to Gray’s wrongful conviction as well.
    DNA testing eventually proved that none of the five defendants were involved in the abduction, rape, and murder of a young couple in Chicago’s Ford Heights section. Gray’s conviction was overturned in 2001 and she was pardoned by Governor Ryan in 2002.


    The Ford Heights Four case was investigated by journalism students under the supervision of Professor David Protess at Northwestern University. For more information regarding this case, please visit the Center On Wrongful Conviction’s
    profile of the Paula Gray case, which includes the opinion issued when her case was overturned.
    4.2. Anthony Hicks

    Incident Year: 1991
    Jurisdiction: WI
    Charge: Rape, Robbery
    Conviction: Rape, Robbery
    Sentence: 20 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1991
    Exoneration Date: 4/23/97
    Sentence Served: 5 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Bad Lawyering, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes

    The victim was getting ready for work in her apartment when she heard a knock at the door. It was a black man claiming to be her upstairs neighbor and requesting to use the phone. The victim let him into her apartment. The man then stole the money from her purse, tied a scarf around the victim, and sexually assaulted her. Anthony Hicks was stopped a few days after the crime on a traffic violation and turned into a suspect when someone in jail thought he looked like the police sketch.


    Five hairs were recovered from the bedroom in the victim’s apartment. A forensic analyst testified that five Negroid hairs found in the victim’s apartment were “consistent” with samples provided by Hicks. The analyst also testified that a Caucasian head hair was found inside the pants Hicks was wearing when arrested, and that this hair was “consistent” with the victim’s head hair.
    Because there is not adequate empirical data on the frequency of various class characteristics in human hair, an analyst’s assertion that hairs are consistent is inherently prejudicial and lacks probative value.
    All original DNA testing done on the hairs was inconclusive due to insufficient sample size. There was not enough sperm found for testing. All serology testing results were inconclusive.


    Hicks eventually secured access to the evidence and had it subjected to DNA testing. One of the roots of one of the hairs yielded enough DNA to obtain a profile, which excluded Hicks.
    4.3. Dennis Williams

    Incident Date: 5/11/78
    Jurisdiction: IL
    Charge: Murder, Rape
    Conviction: Murder, Rape
    Sentence: Death
    Year of Conviction: 1978
    Exoneration Date: 7/2/96
    Sentence Served: 17.5 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Yes
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, False Confessions / Admissions, Bad Lawyering, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes
    Dennis Williams was convicted in Illinois in 1978 and sentenced to die. A young woman and her fiance had been abducted, the young woman raped, and both murdered in an abandoned house. Williams and his friends and codefendants - Kenneth Adams and Willie Rainge - were residents of the neighborhood where the couple was found and were seen on the street the night of the crime. Along with Verneal Jimerson, Williams, Adams, and Rainge were dubbed the Ford Heights Four.


    Williams, Adams and Rainge were tried together in 1978, and represented by an attorney named Archie Weston. The state's chief witness in the case,
    Paula Gray, claimed to have been at the scene of the crime with the four men. After her testimony secured indictments of all four men, she recanted and the charges against Jimerson were dropped. 
    During trial, the state presented eyewitness testimony placing Williams, Adams and Rainge near the scene of the crime at the time of the crime. There was a major timing inconsistency in this witness' account, but Weston failed to point it out to the jury.  A state expert testified improperly that a hair found in Williams' car microscopically "matched" Williams' hair, saying: “Just like if you drop two dollar bills and you see dollar bills on the floor. You see two one dollar bills. It's obvious." Microscopic hair comparison can never prove a conclusive match, but Weston failed to challenge this evidence. Hair evidence cannot be individualized based on microscopic analysis. 

    Because there is not adequate empirical data on the frequency of various class characteristics in human hair, it is impossible to say definitively that strands of hair “matched” a particular person. There was also incorrect serology testimony in the case. The three men were convicted; Adams received a 75-year sentence, Rainge a life sentence, and Williams was sent to death row. 

    Williams won a new trial in 1985. Gray, who had been convicted as an accomplice and for perjury after her recantation, reverted to her original story and testified against Williams to gain her own release from prison. The charges against Jimerson were also refiled and both men were convicted and sentenced to death.

    Archie Weston would later admit during a hearing in a different case that he was so stressed during the trial of Williams, Adams and Rainge that he couldn't think straight. He was disbarred for fraud committed in another case. 

    A group of journalism students took up the Ford Heights Four case in 1996. They found a witness who had tipped police to the identity of the real killers shortly after the crime. The police never investigated the tip. The investigating team also found two of the three men that were responsible for the crime, who eventually confessed. 

    The third was deceased. DNA testing corroborated the confessions. Williams, cleared through DNA and the investigation of persistent Northwestern students, was released in 1996, having spent a total of over 17 years in prison and death row.

    4.4. David Vasquez
    Incident Year: 1984
    Jurisdiction: VA
    Charge: Homicide (Sec. Deg.), Burglary
    Conviction: Homicide (Sec. Deg.), Burglary
    Sentence: 35 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1985
    Exoneration Year: 1989
    Sentence Served: 4 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Yes
    Contributing Causes: False Confessions / Admissions, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes


    David Vasquez was arrested for the murder of a woman who was killed in her Arlington County, Virginia home. She was sexually assaulted and then hung. Vasquez, who is borderline mentally impaired, had reportedly confessed to the crime, supplying details not released to the public. He pled guilty to the crime and became one of several inmates that were exonerated after being convicted on the basis of "dream statements" that were used as confessions. Additionally, Vasquez could not provide an alibi and was placed near the scene of the crime by two eyewitnesses. 

    A forensic analyst also testified that pubic hairs from the crime scene were consistent with those of Vasquez. Because there is not adequate empirical data on the frequency of various class characteristics in human hair, an analyst’s assertion that hairs are consistent is inherently prejudicial and lacks probative value.


    Three laboratories performed DNA testing in this case, but they tested the evidence collected from other crimes where the perpetrator used the same methods used in the murder for which Vasquez was convicted. Testing on the hair in Vasquez's case proved inconclusive. Testing in these other cases led to Timothy Spencer, who was subsequently convicted and executed for two other rape/murders. An FBI report found that the murder in Vasquez's case was perpetrated by the same person who was responsible for the other murders, a person who was not mentally impaired.


    The prosecution joined with defense attorneys to secure a pardon for Vasquez, which was granted in 1989. Spencer was executed in 1994.

    4.5. Eduardo Velasquez

    Incident Date: 12/9/87
    Jurisdiction: MA
    Charge: Rape, Assault with Intent
    Conviction: Agg. Rape (2 cts.), Assault & Batt. w/ Dang. Weapon (2 cts.), Indecent Assault & Batt. on Adult (2 cts.), Assault & Batt. (2 cts.)
    Sentence: 12-18 years
    Year of Conviction: 1988
    Exoneration Date: 8/15/01
    Sentence Served: 12.5 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes

    On November 23, 1988, Eduardo Velasquez, charged under the name Angel Hernandez, was convicted by a jury of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, indecent assault, battery on an adult, aggravated rape, and assault and battery. His conviction was affirmed on August 12, 1991.


    At about 7:30PM on December 9, 1987, the victim was assaulted as she entered her car, parked on Springfield Avenue in Chicopee. As she opened her car door, she heard a someone behind her and turned to see a man rushing towards her, who then pushed her into her car. The victim was forced to perform fellatio while a knife was held against her back. The assailant ejaculated over her face, hair, and coat. He then looked out the window for about thirty seconds while attempting to pull up his clothing, opened the car door, and fled. The entire incident lasted about twenty minutes.


    The victim ran to a nearby convent. The door was opened by a nun, who called the campus police (the convent is located on the campus of a college). The victim gave the police a description of the assailant that was subsequently broadcast over police radio.


    At about 8:15PM on the same night, two officers were driving on Stonia Drive in Chicopee. They claimed to see Velasquez standing in the road with his pants open and down about his knees, adjusting his shirt. The officers went to question him and, during that time, they heard over the radio a description of an assailant wanted in connection with a sexual assault. Noticing that Velasquez fit the general description of the assailant, the police asked him if he would go to the scene for an identification procedure, to which he consented. 


    The officers drove Velasquez to the convent, where he stood on the porch while the victim viewed him through the glass and screen front doors of the convent. She stood behind two police officers and viewed Velasquez from between their shoulders and peering through a curtain. The victim was ten to twelve feet from him. She stated that he looked like her assailant, but she couldn't be sure. She then asked Velasquez to speak. Upon hearing his voice, she identified him as her assailant. The victim then asked to see his gloves to be sure. They were passed through the door and shown to the victim. She then said that she was certain that Velasquez was her assailant.


    At trial, the defense claimed that Velasquez was mistakenly identified. The police had taken blood, saliva samples, head and pubic hair samples, scrapings from under his fingernails, and a penile swab. The victim was taken to a hospital and samples were collected from her, including oral swabs, rectal swabs, vaginal swabs, clothing, pubic hair combings, and head hair combings. The samples contained spermatazoa, which was tested for blood type and PGM enzymes. The results showed that Velazquez's blood type and PGM type matched the evidence from the crime scene. 


    The lab expert testified about these findings and told the jury that 11 percent of the Hispanic population shares this blood and PGM type. 

    The lab expert also testified that he found a dark black pubic hair unlike those of the victim but "within the range of the… submitted known pubic hairs" of Velasquez. Another pubic hair was found on the victim's slip that was unlike the victim's hair but was "within the range" of Velasquez's hair samples. Because there is not adequate empirical data on the frequency of various class characteristics in human hair, an analyst’s assertion that hairs are "within a range" is inherently prejudicial and lacks probative value.

    Eduardo Velasquez's case was accepted by the Innocence Project in February 1998. The Innocence Project and Sam Silverman, Velasquez's attorney and long-time advocate, filed a motion to gain access to the evidence for DNA testing. In 2001, the evidence was sent to Forensic Science Associates and DNA testing was performed on spermatozoa collected as evidence. The results excluded Velasquez, who was exonerated and released on August 15, 2001. The Innocence Project also worked with several other local attorneys, including the New England Innocence Project.


    Eduardo Velasquez spent thirteen years in prison for a crime he did not commit.


    4.6. George Davis
    George David is innocent, and Conviction quashed after 36 years, Josh Layton, Daily Mirror 25/05/2011 http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/36 years after the graffiti first appeared on walls around the country, George Davis has finally won his appeal against conviction. He was jailed in 1975 for his part in a raid at the London Electricity Board, but the case attracted widespread condemnation.

    The Who singer Roger Daltrey wore a T-shirt proclaiming his innocence, protesters vandalised the pitch at Headingley cricket ground in Leeds in 1975 causing a Test match between England and Australia to be abandoned, and supportive graffiti covered walls up and down the country.

    And three Court of Appeal judges yesterday declared his conviction “unsafe” – but said they were unable to “positively exonerate him”. After Lord Justice Hughes made the announcement, Davis, 69, said: “This is a bittersweet moment for me. I am, of course, delighted that my conviction has been quashed. “I have been protesting my innocence since 1974, and always claimed I was falsely identified. But it should not have taken 36 long years to stand here like this.”

    The Daily Mirror’s coverage at the time proved crucial in winning the appeal. Davis’ lawyer Bernard Carnell said: “One of the pieces of the jigsaw was the evidence of the woman whose car was hijacked by the robber with her and her children still in the car.

    After the trial she saw pictures of George Davis in the Daily Mirror and told the police investigation that because of the pictures she was satisfied the person in the car was not George Davis. That evidence has been in possession of the authorities for 35 years and was made available to me only last year.”

    Davis, who lives in London with his wife, was sentenced in March 1975 to 20 years for robbery and wounding with intent over the raid in Ilford, Essex in April 1974. The same year the Court of Appeal rejected a conviction appeal bid but did reduce his sentence to 17 years.

    Davis’s sentence was remitted by Royal Prerogative and he was released in 1976. He was arrested again in 1977 and later admitted his part in an armed robbery at the Bank of Cyprus in London. He was sentenced to 15 years which was reduced to 11 years on appeal. Davis finally won his appeal on the basis of fresh material relating to identification evidence. Lord Justice Hughes said: “The fact that he was a known criminal does not affect this question, nor does it make it any less important that his conviction should not be upheld unless it is clear it is safe.”

    4.7. Chester Bauer
    Incident Year: 1983
    Jurisdiction: MT
    Charge: Rape, Assault
    Conviction: Rape, Agg. Assault w/ Weapon
    Sentence: 30 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1983
    Exoneration Date: 9/22/97
    Sentence Served: 8 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes


    Chester Bauer was convicted in 1983 of rape and aggravated assault. The state’s theory was that he had previously been to the victim’s home to sell a boat or car. He allegedly came back to get the decision. While in the house, he allegedly raped the victim at knife point in her bedroom. In 1983, Bauer was charged with and convicted of sexual intercourse without consent and aggravated assault. Bauer was sentenced to a term of twenty years in the Montana State Prison for the first charge and a term of ten years for the second charge, to be served concurrently. Bauer’s sentence for sexual intercourse without consent was also enhanced with a ten-year term for the use of a weapon, to be served consecutively to the other sentences.


    Bauer was convicted based on the identification made by the victim and her husband. A lab analyst testified at trial that hairs from the victim’s bedding matched Bauer’s hair. The analyst gave improper statistical information about the alleged hair match, saying: “To have them both match, it would be the multiplication of both factors so approximately using that 1 out of 100, you come out with a number like 1 chance in 10,000.” There is not adequate empirical data on the frequency of various class characteristics in human hair, and it is invalid for an analyst to characterize whether consistency is a rare or common event.


    The analyst also testified incorrectly about a blood type match in the case, saying that Bauer was among just 7.5% of the population that could have matched evidence from the crime scene. This number was incorrect, because the victim’s blood type also matched the crime scene evidence. When the evidence being tested is a mixed stain of semen from the perpetrator and vaginal secretions from the victim – and testing does not detect blood group substance or enzymes foreign to the victim – no potential semen donor can be excluded because the victim’s blood group markers could be “masking” the perpetrator’s. 


    Under such circumstances, the failure to inform the jury that 100% of the male population could be included and that none can be excluded is highly misleading.


    DNA testing came about through Bauer’s civil attorney in another matter. The prosecution agreed to testing, which proved Bauer’s innocence.


    In 1991, roughly eight years after Bauer had begun serving his sentence, he was charged with intimidation. Bauer subsequently pleaded guilty to the intimidation charge and was sentenced to a term of five years in the Montana State Prison, to be served consecutively to the other sentences. The state transferred Bauer to the Blaine County Jail. Then, on October 10, 1995, the State charged Bauer with three offenses: sexual intercourse without consent, intimidation, and escape, after an incident with a female inmate at the Blaine County Jail. Following a jury trial, Bauer was convicted on all three charges in March 1996.

    4.8. Ulysses Rodriguez Charles


    Year of Conviction: 1984
    Exoneration Date: 5/17/01
    Sentence Served: 17 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes

    In 2001, Ulysses Rodriguez Charles was released from prison after serving 17 years for aggravated rape, robbery, unlawful confinement, and entering armed with intent to commit a felony. His conviction was vacated after DNA testing of semen found on the victim’s bed sheets excluded him. Charles asserts that he had been targeted by a police officer with a vendetta who hid evidence in pursuit of his wrongful conviction.

    Miscarriages of justice are sad reminders that the criminal justice system is a good one but far from perfect. Sometimes bad guys go free, and sometimes innocent men and women do time or die for crimes they didn’t commit. When you look at a list like this, some patterns emerge: some confessions are coerced by police, while other convictions are overturned because of advances in DNA technology. But everyone on this list paid a price for something they didn’t do, and that’s a reminder that in the legal system, there’s always room for improvement:

    5.1. Randall Dale Adams
    In 1976, Robert Wood of the Dallas Police Department was shot and killed when he pulled a car over. Police first suspected a man named David Ray Harris, but Harris blamed Randall Dale Adams for the killing, and multiple surprise witness in the trial led to Adams’ conviction. He was sentenced to death. However, in May 1979, with just three days to go before his execution, the Supreme Court stayed his execution because of procedural issues with the trial, so Adams’ sentence was commuted to life. 


    In 1985, documentary filmmaker Errol Morris began making The Thin Blue Line, which would come to investigate Adams and reveal further evidence that he was innocent. Adams was set free in 1989, in part because of what the court called malfeasance on the part of the original prosecutor and perjury issues with one of the witnesses. At a later legislative hearing, Adams summed up his journey: “The man you see before you is here by the grace of God. The fact that it took 12 and a half years and a movie to prove my innocence should scare the hell out of everyone in this room, and if it doesn’t, then that scares the hell out of me.”

    5.2. Darryl Hunt
    Darryl Hunt was convicted of the 1984 rape and murder of Deborah Sykes in North Carolina, though from the start, racial tensions were present: Hunt is black, Sykes was white, and Hunt faced an all-white jury. Further, there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, merely testimony from witnesses later proven to be inaccurate.


    In 1994, DNA technology had advanced to the point where Hunt’s name was cleared in the sexual assault charge, which in turn raised doubts about his involvement in the killing. In December 2003, another man confessed to Sykes’ rape and murder, and the DNA backed up the confession. As a result, Hunt was set free after serving 18 years of his original life sentence. He had always maintained his innocence, and has since become involved with The Innocence Project, a non-profit group that uses DNA testing to help overturn wrongful convictions.

    5.3. The Roscetti Four
    Lori Roscetti, a medical student was raped and murdered in Chicago in 1986. The young men convicted of the crime came to be known as the Roscetti Four: Omar Saunders, 18, Marcellius Bradford, 17, Calvin Ollins, 14, and Larry Ollins, 16. Bradford agreed to plead guilty and testify against Ollins, and as a result received a 12-year sentence while the other three got life. 


    However, Bradford eventually recanted, saying that his confession and subsequent plea bargain had been forced on him by police. Although forensics at the original trial said that semen found on Sykes’ body could have come from the Ollins brothers, further digging revealed that none of their blood types matched the evidence. In 2001, DNA tech cleared all four men of the crime, and they were released from prison. They all received settlements from the State of Illinois, and Calvin Ollins earned another $1.5 million from the City of Chicago. The proceedings were recounted in a 2002 episode of the radio program “This American Life” entitled “Perfect Evidence.”

    5.4. Kirk Bloodsworth
    Kirk Bloodsworth holds an interesting record: He’s the first American sentenced to death whose conviction was overturned through DNA testing. Bloodsworth was convicted of the rape and murder of a 9-year-old Maryland girl, and he maintained his innocence even as several witnesses placed him at the scene. 

    In 1992, while in prison, Bloodsworth read about the emerging practice of DNA testing and how it could be used to help convict or exonerate criminals. When tested against the crime scene evidence, including semen in the victim’s underwear, Bloodsworth name was cleared, and he was set free in 1993. The real killer was located in 2003. Bloodsworth now works with The Justice Project and other groups on behalf of those who have been wrongfully convicted.

    5.5. Martin Tankleff
    When he was 17, Martin Tankleff’s parents were murdered and he was arrested for the crime. His conviction was largely aided by a confession written out by a detective that Tankleff rejected and refused to sign. In 1990, he began serving serving his two consecutive life sentences. However, in the following years, he worked hard to protest his treatment and spread word of his innocence. 


    In November 2007, the Suffolk County district attorney was convinced that there had been prosecutorial misconduct in the original trial, and in December of that year, Tankleff’s convictions were overturned. The state later announced it would not seek to retry him, effectively ending his nightmare of wrongful imprisonment after 17 years behind bars. More info here.

    5.6. Darryl Burton Convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, Darryl Burton served 24 years of his erroneous life sentence before earning his freedom. When a drug dealer was killed in St. Louis in the summer of 1984, Burton was named for the crime by a pair of witnesses angling for lighter sentences on other charges. 

    There was no evidence linking him to the murder, but the testimony was enough to put him away. With help from Centurion Ministries, Burton’s case was eventually brought back up and he was allowed to go free after 24 years.

    5.7. Bill Dillon Bill Dillon was convicted of murder in 1981, thanks largely to the testimony of a man named John Preston, who used his scent-tracking German Shepherd to link the victim’s bloody T-shirt with Dillon. However, Preston and his dog turned out to be frauds, and were discredited in 1987. Unfortunately, no one started a review process of the cases in which Preston had testified, so it wasn’t until Dillon learned about Preston’s phoniness in 2006 that he started acting on it. He secured a DNA test that exonerated him of the crime, and he was set free after spending 26 years in prison for a crime he always maintainted was committed by someone else.

    5.8. Clarence Brandley
    A high school janitor in Texas, Clarence Bradley was convicted of the rape and murder of 16-year-old student Cheryl Dee Ferguson. Brandley, a black man, was sentenced to death for the crime after facing two all-white juries. (The first was declared a mistrial.) Once in prison, his lawyers discovered more evidence that supported his innocence, and civil rights groups raised money to promote his cause and further investigate the killing. Brandley was eventually freed, though prosecutors refused to admit they pursued the wrong man.


    5.9. Glen Edward Chapman
    Glen Edward Chapman was convicted of the 1992 killings of Betty Jean Ramseur and Tenene Yvette Conley in North Carolina. However, he was granted a new trial in 2007 when a Superior Court judge learned that detectives had covered up evidence affirming Chapman’s innocence and that one of the detectives had committed perjury in the original trial. Even his original defense attorneys were no good: one was disciplined by the state bar association, and other was taken off another death penalty case to enter alcohol abuse treatment. After 15 years and multiple errors, Chapman was finally sent home a free man. “I’m tired, but not angry,” he said. “I see no need for it.”


    5.10. Thomas Clifford McGowan
    When Thomas Clifford McGowan was sent to prison for committing rape and burglary, he maintained his innoncence. The main evidence used to put him away was identification by the victim that turned out to be inaccurate. Thanks to DNA tech, his innocence was proven in 2008, and he was set free after spending 23 years behind bars. “Words cannot express how sorry I am for the last 23 years,” state district judge Susan Hawk told him when he was released.


    5.11. Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz
    Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz were wrongly convicted in 1988 of the rape and murder of Oklahoma woman Debbie Carter. Williamson, a former minor league baseball player, was suffering from increased mental illness in the 1980s, and though Carter was murdered in 1982, he and Fritz were arrested in 1987 on sketchy premises, including a dream of Williamson’s that was cited as a confession. 


    The evidence against the men also included hair analysis, and the spotty procedure (now known to be unreliable) was used to convict them when it could just as easily have exonerated them. Williamson received a death sentence, despite his mental state, while Fritz received life imprisonment. It wasn’t until April 1999 that the men were freed because of DNA testing. Williamson died five years after in a nursing home, suffering from cirrhosis of the liver. John Grisham wrote about the men in his nonfiction book The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town.


    6.DEATH PENALTY OF INNOCENT PEOPLE DUE TO WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS 
    Since 1973, over 130 people have been released from death rows throughout the country due to evidence of their wrongful convictions. In 2003 alone, 10 wrongfully convicted defendants were released from death row.

    "I cannot support a system which, in its administration, has proven so fraught with error and has come so close to the ultimate nightmare, the state's taking of innocent life... Until I can be sure that everyone sentenced to death in Illinois is truly guilty, until I can be sure with moral certainty that no innocent man or woman is facing a lethal injection, no one will meet that fate."

    Governor George Ryan of Illinois, January 2000, in declaring a moratorium on executions in his state, after the 13th Illinois death row inmate had been released from prison due to wrongful conviction. In the same time period, 12 others had been executed. 

    6.1. Examples of wrongful convictions:
    Arizona: Ray Krone, released in 2002 
     ·   Spent 10 years in prison in Arizona, including time on death row, for a murder he did not commit. He was the 100th person to be released from death row since 1973. DNA testing proved his innocence.
    Illinois: Madison Hobley, Aaron Patterson, Stanley Howard and LeRoy Orange, pardoned in 2003
    ·   Sent to death row on the basis of "confessions" extracted through the use of torture by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and other Area 2 police officers in Chicago. They were pardoned by outgoing Governor George Ryan, who also commuted the remaining 167 death sentences in Illinois to life imprisonment.
    North Carolina: Jonathon Hoffman, exonerated in 2007
    ·   Convicted and sentenced to death for the 1995 murder of a jewelry store owner. During Hoffman's first trial, the state's key witness, Johnell Porter, made undisclosed deals with the prosecutors for testifying against his cousin. Porter has since recanted his testimony, stating that he lied in order to get back at his cousin for stealing money from him.

    6.2. Factors leading to wrongful convictions include:
    ·   Inadequate legal representation
    ·   Police and prosecutorial misconduct
    ·   Perjured testimony and mistaken eyewitness testimony
    ·   Racial prejudice
    ·   Jailhouse "snitch" testimony
    ·   Suppression and/or misinterpretation of mitigating evidence
    ·   Community/political pressure to solve a case



    7. 10,000 INNOCENT PEOPLE CONVICTED EACH YEAR, STUDY ESTIMATES 

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- About 10,000 people in the United States may be wrongfully convicted of serious crimes each year, a new study suggests. The results are based on a survey of 188 judges, prosecuting attorneys, public defenders, sheriffs and police chiefs in Ohio and 41 state attorneys general. The study also found that the most important factor leading to wrongful conviction is eyewitness misidentification. 

    These findings are included in the new book Convicted But Innocent: Wrongful Conviction and Public Policy (Sage Publications, 1996). The book was written by C. Ronald Huff, director of the Criminal Justice Research Center and the School of Public Policy and Management at Ohio State University; Arye Rattner, professor of sociology at the University of Haifa, Israel; and the late Edward Sagarin, who was a professor of sociology at City College and CityUniversity of New York. 

    The survey asked respondents to estimate the prevalence of wrongful conviction in the United States. About 72 percent estimated that less than 1 percent -- but more than zero -- of convictions were of innocent people. 

    Based on these results, Huff estimated conservatively that 0.5 percent of the 1,993,880 convictions for index
    crimes in 1990 were of innocent people. (Index crimes, which are reported by the FBI, are murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.) That would result in an estimated 9,969 wrongful convictions.

    Huff said he thinks that number is probably low. "Our sample was stacked in favor of obtaining conservative estimates," Huff said. Most of those surveyed -- including prosecutors and law enforcement officials -- "have every reason to defend the system's accuracy and underestimate error," he said. Only 9 percent of the respondents were public defenders, who might be more critical of the criminal justice system. 

    Wrongful convictions undermine public confidence in the judicial system and should be viewed with alarm, said Huff.

    It troubles Huff that liberals seem more concerned about the issue than conservatives. "Conservatives, too,
    should be concerned because it's a public safety issue. The actual offender remains free to victimize other citizens." 
    Huff cites the case of William Jackson, a Columbus man who spent five years behind bars in the early 1980s for rapes later determined to have been committed by a physician who was similar in appearance and had the same last name. "No one has ever known for sure how many women Dr. Jackson raped while the wrong man was in prison. He had five more years to continue his serial rapes." 

    What causes wrongful convictions? To find out, Huff and his co-authors created a database of 205 wrongful convictions collected from a variety of sources. After analyzing these cases, the researchers found that most wrongful convictions resulted from a combination of errors. The main cause in more than half of the cases -- 52.3 percent -- was eyewitness misidentification. 

    That's understandable, Huff said. "The victims are not, at the time of the crime, concentrating too much on the features of the assailant's face. For example, they may be looking at the weapon. The trauma of the moment interferes with their ability to recall details." 

    The next most common main cause was perjury by a witness, which contributed to 11 percent of the convictions. Other problems included negligence by criminal justice officials, coerced confessions, "frame ups" by guilty parties, and general overzealousness by officers and prosecutors. 

    Overzealousness can lead authorities to make careless, if unintentional errors, and cause some authorities to bend rules to get a known criminal off the street. Failure to keep an open mind can cause errors that become rubber-stamped by trusting colleagues as the case moves through the judicial process, Huff says. By the time the errors are discovered, the trail to the real offender is cold. 

    Public pressure to solve a case and the organizational culture of a police or district attorney's office can affect the process. While most errors are unintentional, the researchers say there are far too many incidences of unethical and unprofessional behavior. "Our research has convinced us that such unethical conduct in the United States has not, in general, received appropriate attention, nor has it been adequately punished," Huff said. 

    The authors said that can be remedied by training police, prosecutors and judges in the causes and effects of wrongful convictions and removing officials who knowingly manipulate evidence, commit perjury, bias witnesses, or withhold evidence that could clear the accused. "Such persons should not hold positions of public trust," Huff said. "The average person thinks the prosecutor's job is to seek convictions. Under the law, the prosecutor's actual job is to seek justice, whether or not it involves a conviction." 
    Huff, Rattner and Sagarin also call for:
    • Evaluating the performance of police officers, prosecutors and defense attorneys involved in every case of wrongful conviction.
    • Prohibiting any identification procedures in the absence of the defendant's attorney.
    • Properly compensating and reintegrating the wrongfully convicted. That doesn't address situations in which innocent people have pleaded guilty to lesser crimes to avoid jail time and huge legal and court fees. Recovery of such fees is a pipe dream, according to the authors.
    • Replacing capital punishment with life sentences without parole. Since 1900, at least 23 innocent people have been executed, Huff said, and more innocent people have been spared, sometimes hours before their scheduled execution.

    "Surveys have shown that 85 percent of Americans favor capital punishment. But if you change the phrasing of the question to: 'In light of the possibility of error, would you favor execution or life in prison without parole?' you find a dramatic drop in the number of people who favor capital punishment. Life imprisonment is actually a much less costly alternative and eliminates the chance of a mistake. "If you lock someone up for life, you take him off the streets, but you can later release him and compensate him if you discover that you made an error. If you kill him, you no longer have that option and you also send a message that violent solutions -- executions -- are approved by the state."

    (C. Ronald Huff, (614) 292-4544; huff.2@osu.edu, Written by Tom Spring, (614) 292-8309. Jeff Grabmeier, Managing Editor (jgrabmei@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu) Earle Holland, Director, Science Communications (holland.8@osu.edu)


    8. TRUTH REVEALS IN JUSTICE: WRONGFUL CONVICTION OF INNOCENT PEOPLE

    Truth in Justice is an educational non-profit organized to educate the public regarding the vulnerabilities in the U. S. criminal justice system that make the criminal conviction of wholly innocent persons possible.

    When we say "wholly innocent," we mean a person who had absolutely no part in the crime charged. An innocent person is deprived of life, liberty and the opportunity to contribute to society, while the guilty party is free to commit more crimes against unsuspecting victims. In many instances, no crime was committed in the first place -- a suicide is charged as homicide, or an accidental fire is mistaken for arson. How does this happen? Faulty eye witness identification, tunnel vision investigators, over-zealous prosecutors, bad science, compromised experts and a politicized judiciary are major factors, along with a credulous public.
     

    Why should you be concerned about wrongful conviction? The cases here make the answer clear: it can happen to anyone, including you. What can you do? Educate yourself. Ask questions. Think. Stop rewarding malfeasance. It starts with just one person. It starts with YOU.

    9. A CONSTITUENCY FOR THE INNOCENT: ABOUT THE CENTER ON WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS. http://www.law.northwestern.edu/wrongfulconvictions/aboutus/


    Since its founding following the 1998 National Conference on Wrongful Convictions and the Death Penalty, the Center has been instrumental in the exonerations of 34 innocent men and women in Illinois. Before the founding of the Center, members of its staff were instrumental in 14 additional exonerations — including that of Gary Dotson, who in 1989 became the first person in the world to be exonerated by DNA.

    Of the 48 exonerees, 13 had been sentenced to death. In all, they languished 478 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit. At an average cost per prisoner of $25,000 per year. The taxpayers’ tab for the wrongful imprisonment of the 37 innocent men and women (three of the latter) well in excess of $15 million — which pales beside the social costs of lives and careers destroyed and families devastated. Not to mention the death and destruction that resulted from leaving violent criminals on the street.

    The Center was one of the first university-based innocence project to accept non-DNA cases as well as DNA cases. Of the 48 exonerations in which the Center or members of its staff have been involved, 22 were non-DNA cases. Typical of the non-DNA cases are those of Gordon “Randy” Steidl, Tabitha Pollock, Julie Rea Harper, Robert Wilson, and Jacques Rivera (our most recent non-DNA exoneree). Among our pending cases non-DNA cases outnumber DNA cases more than two to one.

    The Center was the first university-based innocence project to accept non-DNA cases as well as DNA cases. Of the 37 exonerations in which the Center or members of its staff have been involved, just over half —21— were non-DNA cases. Typical of the non-DNA cases are those of Gordon “Randy” Steidl, Tabitha Pollock, Julie Rea Harper, and Robert Wilson (see below). Among our pending cases they outnumber DNA cases more than two to one. 

    Non-DNA cases are moving increasingly into the forefront of the criminal justice reform movement as the era of post-conviction DNA exonerations comes to an end (because almost all DNA testing now is done prior to trial). Through our investigation and litigation of non-DNA cases, we have developed cutting-edge expertise in cases involving false confessions, jailhouse informants (snitches, in the vernacular), and fire deaths. 

    The Center was a driving force behind both the moratorium on executions declared by former Governor George Ryan in January 2000 and his decision to commute all Illinois death sentences in January 2003. In recognition of the Center’s role, the Governor chose Lincoln Hall at Northwestern Law School as the venue for his blanket clemency announcement.

    Center research on factors leading to wrongful convictions also was a driving force behind a comprehensive package of criminal justice reforms approved overwhelmingly by the Illinois General Assembly in November 2003. Perhaps the most significant reform is a requirement that police — as a safeguard against coerced confessions — electronically record all custodial interrogations of suspects in murder cases. (Coerced false confessions were factors in 16 of the 37 aforementioned exoneration cases.) Illinois was the first state to address the problem by statute, which makes statements inadmissible unless the entire interrogation has been recorded. Six other states have since followed the Illinois lead — Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

    Although Center attorneys focus primarily on post-conviction cases, occasionally they serve as co-counsel with experienced trial lawyers, working pro bono, in the retrials of cases that have been reversed and remanded. Ronald S. Safer, the managing partner at Schiff Hardin LLP, joined Center attorneys in the retrial of Julie Rea Harper, who was acquitted of murder following a two-week retrial in Clinton County, Illinois in 2006.

    In 2004, Center attorneys, students, and staff were instrumental in persuading Indiana Governor Joe Kernan to commute the death sentence of a young African-American prisoner named Darnell Williams, whose case became the subject of an American Justice episode entitled Countdown to an Execution that aired on A&E in 2005. In 2006, the Center won the posthumous exoneration of Clyde Kennard, a Mississippi civil rights pioneer who was framed in a 1960 burglary case and sentenced to seven years in prison after attempting to integrate the University of Southern Mississippi; Kennard died of cancer in prison in 1963. In 2008, the Center joined pro bono attorneys from Washington, D.C. to secure a sentence commutation for John Spirko, who faced imminent execution in Ohio for a murder he almost certainly did not commit. 

    The Center has been amicus curiae in seven cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and the supreme courts of various states in support of issues of importance to the wrongfully convicted. In 2008, the Japanese Supreme Court accepted a Center brief in a notorious mass murder case in which a confession of an 81-year-old defendant named Masaru Okunishi may have been coerced. It was the first such brief ever filed in Japan by a U.S. legal organization.

    The Center regularly sponsors forums designed to raise public awareness of the causes and social effects of wrongful convictions and to foster reforms to improve the fairness and accuracy of the criminal justice system. One such forum, in February 2008, highlighted the plights of five innocent Center clients who, although officially exonerated, have been waiting years for compensation that is supposed to be automatic under Illinois law. After the forum, the Illinois General Assembly approved a bill that will make it possible for courts to speed the compensation process.

    The challenges before us
    Reforming the criminal justice system to reduce the numbers of men and women sentenced to prison for crimes they did not commit will remain a Center priority for the foreseeable future.

    9.1. Needed reforms include:

    Expanding the Illinois law requiring police to electronically record interrogations in murder cases to all cases, particularly child sexual assault cases.
    • ·           Forbidding police interrogators to lie to suspects about the evidence.
    • ·          Abolishing the use of polygraph examinations during interrogation.
    • ·       Reforming police lineup procedures to reduce erroneous identifications by victims and eyewitnesses. (Psychological research has shown that replacing traditional lineups with a sequential double blind process reduces misidentifications by half.

    ·         Holding police and prosecutors accountable for misconduct in criminal investigations and prosecutions.
    ·         Increasing and speeding compensation for the wrongfully convicted.

    9.2. Non-DNA cases
    DNA often is regarded as the gold standard or proof of actual innocence, but it isn’t the only standard as these Center clients illustrate:

    Gordon “Randy” Steidl was sentenced to death for a 1986 double murder based on the testimony of two alcoholics who falsely claimed to have seen the crime. The Center won Randy’s release on a writ of habeas corpus in 2003 and the charges were dropped the following year. Tabitha Pollock was sleeping when her live-in boyfriend killed her 3-year-old daughter in 1995. Tabitha was convicted of first-degree murder based on the prosecution’s contention that she “should have known” the boyfriend posed a danger to the child. The Center won an outright reversal of the conviction in 2002. 

    Julie Rea Harper was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 65 years in prison for the murder of her 10-year-old son in 1997 in Wayne County — a crime that in all likelihood was committed by a serial killer who committed similar crimes in Missouri and Texas. That killer, Tommy Lynn Sells, confessed to the crime. After Harper won a new trial, she was acquitted by a jury in Clinton County, where Center attorneys tried the case on a change of venue. In addition to presenting the Sells confession, Center lawyers introduced extensive forensic evidence demonstrating that there was a third person in the house who not only killed Joel Kirkpatrick but who also attacked Harper. 

    This evidence included injuries to Harper that could not have been self-inflicted and bloodstains on her clothing demonstrating that she had struggled with a third person.

    Robert Wilson was convicted of a 1997 slashing attack on a nurse based on an erroneous identification by the victim, who told police he was the wrong man — before they persuaded her otherwise. The victim came forward and apologized after the Center won a federal writ of habeas corpus in the case. 



    10. INNOCENCE PROJECT: REASONS FOR WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS http://www.innocenceproject.org/know/Browse-Profiles.php

    10.1. Unreliable or Improper Forensic Science
    Since the late 1980s, DNA analysis has helped identify the guilty and exonerate the innocent nationwide. While DNA testing was developed through extensive scientific research at top academic centers, many other forensic techniques — such as hair microscopy, bite mark comparisons, firearm tool mark analysis and shoe print comparisons — have never been subjected to rigorous scientific evaluation. Meanwhile, forensics techniques that have been properly validated — such as serology, commonly known as blood typing — are sometimes improperly conducted or inaccurately conveyed in trial testimony. In some cases, forensic analysts have fabricated results or engaged in other misconduct.

    All of these problems constitute unvalidated or improper forensic science, which is the second-greatest contributor to wrongful convictions that have been overturned with DNA testing.  In more than 50% of DNA exonerations, unvalidated or improper forensic science contributed to the wrongful conviction.


    While DNA exonerations are a window into the effect of unvalidated or improper forensic science contributing to wrongful convictions, DNA does not solve the problem. In fact, experts estimate that only 5-10% of all criminal cases involve biological evidence that could be subjected to DNA testing. In the other 90-95% of crimes, DNA testing is not an option – so the criminal justice system relies on other kinds of evidence, including forensic disciplines that may not be scientifically sound or properly conducted.


    10.1.1. The Absence of Scientific Standards
    Unlike DNA testing, many forensic disciplines – particularly those that deal with comparing impression marks and objects like hair and fiber – were developed solely to solve crime.  These disciplines have evolved primarily through their use in individual cases. Without the benefit of basic research or adequate financial resources, applied research has also been minimal.


    In fact, many forensic testing methods have been applied with little or no scientific validation and with inadequate assessments of their robustness or reliability. Furthermore, they lacked scientifically acceptable standards for quality assurance and quality control before their implementation in cases.


    As a result, forensic analysts sometimes testify in cases without a proper scientific basis for their findings. Testimony about more dubious forensic disciplines, such as efforts to match a defendant’s teeth to marks on a victim or attempts to compare a defendant’s voice to a voicemail recording, are cloaked in science but lack even the most basic scientific standards.  Even within forensic disciplines that are more firmly grounded in science, evidence is often made to sound more precise than it should.  For example, analysts will testify that hairs from a crime scene “match” or “are consistent with” defendants’ hair – but because scientific research on validity and reliability of hair analysis is lacking, they have no way of knowing how rare these similarities are, so there is no way to know how meaningful this evidence is.


    10.1.2. Improper Forensic Testimony
    Too often, forensic analysts’ testimony goes further than the science allows. Many forensic techniques that have been practiced for years – but not subjected to the rigors of scientific research – are accepted and repeated as fact. Juries are left with the impression that the evidence is more scientific than it is, and the potential for wrongful convictions increases.


    Improper forensic testimony is not limited to unvalidated disciplines, however. Among the DNA exoneration cases, scores of people were wrongfully convicted after forensic testimony misrepresented serology results. Serology is still used, but before DNA testing it was the only way to help identify the source of blood, semen or other bodily fluids at a crime scene. Using serology, forensic analysts could determine what blood type was present in fluids collected in a rape kit, for example. In many cases, analysts testify properly about what the serology can tell and what percentage of the population shares the perpetrator’s blood type. 


    But in other cases, analysts fail to recognize that the biological sample could be a mixture of fluids from the victim and perpetrator, and the victim’s blood type could mask the perpetrator’s – making it impossible to know the blood type of the perpetrator. In other cases, analysts provide inaccurate statistics for the percentage of the population who share the perpetrator’s blood type.


    10.1.3. Forensic Misconduct
    The vast majority of forensic employees are hardworking, ethical and responsible. They use the best scientific techniques available to deliver objective, solid information – regardless of whether the science favors the defendant, supports the prosecution or is inconclusive.


    In many cases, the science – rather than the scientist – is inadequate. In other cases, forensic analysts make mistakes that could result from lack of training, poor support or insufficient resources to meet an ever-growing demand. But in some cases, forensic analysts have engaged in misconduct. While these “bad apples” don’t reflect the entire forensic field, one fraudulent forensic analyst can taint countless cases. For example, in some wrongful convictions later overturned with DNA testing, forensic analysts fabricated test results, reported results when no tests were conducted or concealed parts of test results that were favorable to defendants. In virtually all of these cases, analysts had engaged in misconduct that led to multiple separate wrongful convictions, sometimes in multiple states.


    10.1.4. Making Real Reform a Priority
    The Innocence Project works at the local, state and federal levels to ensure quality forensics. Nationally,
    the Innocence Project supports creating a federal forensic science agency that will stimulate research to validate forensic science disciplines, and will also set and enforce standards. In states, the Innocence Project supports commissions and advisory boards that help make sure forensic facilities have the information and resources they need to do quality work. 

    Meanwhile, the Innocence Project advocates for full enforcement of the existing forensic oversight mechanisms in the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program. This federal program provides critical funding for state and local crime labs and other forensic facilities – on the condition that grant recipients have proper oversight mechanisms in place to handle allegations of serious negligence or misconduct. 

    10.2. Bad Lawyering
    The resources of the justice system are often stacked against poor defendants. Matters only become worse when a person is represented by an ineffective, incompetent or overburdened defense lawyer. The failure of overworked lawyers to investigate, call witnesses or prepare for trial has led to the conviction of innocent people. When a defense lawyer doesn't do his or her job, the defendant suffers. Shrinking funding and access to resources for public defenders and court-appointed attorneys is only making the problem worse.

    10.2.1. Asleep on the job
    A review of convictions overturned by DNA testing reveals a trail of sleeping, drunk, incompetent and overburdened defense attorneys, at the trial level and on appeal. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Innocent defendants are convicted or plead guilty in this country with less than adequate defense representation. In the some of the worst cases, lawyers have:

    • slept in the courtroom during trial
    • been disbarred shortly after finishing a death penalty case
    • failed to investigate alibis
    • failed to call or consult experts on forensic issues
    • failed to show up for hearings



    10.2.2. Good Defense Means Fair Justice
    There are ways to stop wrongful convictions from happening due to ineffective representation. See our Fix The System section to learn more about our recommendations in support of better defense for poor defendants.

    10.3. Unreliable or Improper Forensic Science
    Since the late 1980s, DNA analysis has helped identify the guilty and exonerate the innocent nationwide. While DNA testing was developed through extensive scientific research at top academic centers, many other forensic techniques  such as hair microscopy, bite mark comparisons, firearm tool mark analysis and shoe print comparisons have never been subjected to rigorous scientific evaluation. 

    Meanwhile, forensics techniques that have been properly validated such as serology, commonly known as blood typing are sometimes improperly conducted or inaccurately conveyed in trial testimony. In some cases, forensic analysts have fabricated results or engaged in other misconduct.

    10.4. Forensic Science Misconduct
    Because forensic science results can mean the difference between life and death in many cases, fraud and other types of misconduct in the field are particularly troubling. False testimony, exaggerated statistics and laboratory fraud have led to wrongful conviction in several states.


    Since forensic evidence is offered by "experts," jurors routinely give it much more weight than other evidence. But when misconduct occurs, the weight is misplaced. In some instances, labs or their personnel have allied themselves with police and prosecutors, rather than prioritizing the search for truth. Other times, criminalists lacking the requisite knowledge have embellished findings and eluded detection because judges and juries lacked background in the relevant sciences, themselves.
    In some cases, critical evidence has been consumed or destroyed, so that re-testing to uncover misconduct has proven impossible. Evidence in these cases can never be tested again, preventing the truth from being revealed. 

    10.4.1. One weak link
    The identification, collection, testing, storage, handling and reporting of any piece of forensic evidence involves a number of people. Evidence can be deliberately or accidentally mishandled at any stage of this process.


    The risk of misconduct starts at the crime scene, where evidence can be planted, destroyed or mishandled. Evidence is later sent to a forensic lab or independent contractor, where it can be contaminated, poorly tested, consumed unnecessarily or mislabeled. Then, in the reporting of test results, technicians and their superiors sometimes have misrepresented their findings. DNA exonerations have even revealed instances of "drylabbing" evidence – reporting results when no test was actually performed.
    10.4.2. All over the map
    The Innocence Project has seen forensic misconduct by scientists, experts and prosecutors lead to wrongful conviction in many states. The following are among the more notorious: 
    •  A former director of the West Virginia state crime lab, Fred Zain, testified for the prosecution in 12 states over his career, including dozens of cases in West Virginia and Texas. DNA exonerations and new evidence in other cases have shown that Zain fabricated results, lied on the stand about results and willfully omitted evidence from his reports.
    •  Pamela Fish, a Chicago lab technician, testified for the prosecution about false matches and suspicious results in the trials of at least eight defendants who were convicted, then proven innocent years later by DNA testing.
    •  A two-year investigation of the Houston crime lab, completed in 2007, showed that evidence in that lab was mishandled and results were misreported.

    10.4.3. Ending forensic fraud
    The Innocence Project has uncovered these abuses since 1992 and has developed recommendations for forensic labs, law enforcement agencies and courts to ensure that forensic science misconduct is prevented whenever possible. The Innocence Project calls for states to impose standards on the preservation and handling of evidence. When exonerations suggest that an analyst engaged in misconduct or that a facility lacked proper procedures or oversight, the Innocence Project advocates for independent audits of their work in other cases that may have also resulted in wrongful convictions.



    10.5. Government Misconduct
    Some wrongful convictions are caused by honest mistakes. But in far too many cases, the very people who are responsible for ensuring truth and justice — law enforcement officials and prosecutors — lose sight of these obligations and instead focus solely on securing convictions.

    The cases of wrongful convictions uncovered by DNA testing are filled with evidence of negligence, fraud or misconduct by prosecutors or police departments. 

    While many law enforcement officers and prosecutors are honest and trustworthy, criminal justice is a human endeavor and the possibility for negligence, misconduct and corruption exists. Even if one officer of every thousand is dishonest, wrongful convictions will continue to occur.


    DNA exonerations have exposed official misconduct at every level and stage of a criminal investigation.

    Common forms of misconduct by law enforcement officials include:

    •    Employing suggestion when conducting  identification procedures
    •    Coercing false confessions
    •    Lying or intentionally misleading jurors about their observations
    •    Failing to turn over exculpatory evidence to prosecutors
    •    Providing incentives to secure unreliable evidence from informants

    Common forms of misconduct by prosecutors include:

    •    Withholding exculpatory evidence from defense
    •    Deliberately mishandling, mistreating or destroying evidence
    •    Allowing witnesses they know or should know are not truthful to testify
    •    Pressuring defense witnesses not to testify
    •    Relying on fraudulent forensic experts
    •    Making misleading arguments that overstate the probative value of testimony  
    For more background on this issue, download the Northern California Innocence Project report on prosecutorial misconduct.


    10.5.1. Necessary Oversight
    We need to find solutions to fix these problems. One way to put checks on the enormous power of prosecutors and law enforcement officials would be to establish
    criminal justice reform commissions.

    10.6. Eyewitness Misidentification
    Eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, playing a role in more than 75% of convictions overturned through DNA testing.

    While eyewitness testimony can be persuasive evidence before a judge or jury, 30 years of strong social science research has proven that eyewitness identification is often unreliable. Research shows that the human mind is not like a tape recorder; we neither record events exactly as we see them, nor recall them like a tape that has been rewound. Instead, witness memory is like any other evidence at a crime scene; it must be preserved carefully and retrieved methodically, or it can be contaminated.

    10.6.1. When witnesses get it wrong
    In case after case, DNA has proven what scientists already know — that eyewitness identification is frequently inaccurate. In the wrongful convictions caused by eyewitness misidentification, the circumstances varied, but judges and juries all relied on testimony that could have been more accurate if reforms proven by science had been implemented. The Innocence Project has worked on cases in which:

    •  A witness made an identification in a “show-up” procedure from the back of a police car hundreds of feet away from the suspect in a poorly lit parking lot in the middle of the night.

    • A witness in a rape case was shown a photo array where only one photo of the person police suspected was the perpetrator was marked with an “R.”

    • Witnesses substantially changed their description of a perpetrator (including key information such as height, weight and presence of facial hair) after they learned more about a particular suspect.

    • Witnesses only made an identification after multiple photo arrays or lineups — and then made hesitant identifications (saying they “thought” the person “might be” the perpetrator, for example), but at trial the jury was told the witnesses did not waver in identifying the suspect.



    10.6.2. Variables impacting accuracy of identifications
    Leading social science researchers identify two main categories of variables affecting eyewitness identification: estimator variables and system variables.



    10.6.3. Estimator variables are those that cannot be controlled by the criminal justice system. They include simple factors like the lighting when the crime took place or the distance from which the witness saw the perpetrator. Estimator variables also include more complex factors, including race (identifications have proven to be less accurate when witnesses are identifying perpetrators of a different race), the presence of a weapon during a crime and the degree of stress or trauma a witness experienced while seeing the perpetrator. 


    10.6.4. System variables are those that the criminal justice system can and should control. They include all of the ways that law enforcement agencies retrieve and record witness memory, such as lineups, photo arrays and other identification procedures. 


    System variables that substantially impact the accuracy of identifications include the type of lineup used, the selection of “fillers” (or members of a lineup or photo array who are not the actual suspect), blind administration, instructions to witnesses before identification procedures, administration of lineups or photo arrays, and communication with witnesses after they make an identification.

    Click here to learn about reforms the Innocence Project strongly recommends for individual law enforcement agencies and state legislatures.




    10.6.5. Decades of solid scientific evidence supports reform
    As far back as the late 1800s, experts have known that eyewitness identification is all-too-susceptible to error, and that scientific study should guide reforms for identification procedures. In 1907, Hugo Munsterberg published “
    On the Witness Stand,” in which he questioned the reliability of eyewitness identification. When Yale law professor Edwin Borchard studied 65 wrongful convictions for his pioneering 1932 book, “Convicting the Innocent,” he found that eyewitness misidentification was the leading cause of wrongful convictions.


    Since then, hundreds of scientific studies (particularly in the last three decades) have affirmed that eyewitness identification is often inaccurate — and that it can be made more accurate by implementing specific identification reforms.


     10.7. False Confessions
    In about 25% of DNA exoneration cases, innocent defendants made incriminating statements, delivered outright confessions or pled guilty.
    These cases show that confessions are not always prompted by internal knowledge or actual guilt, but are sometimes motivated by external influences.


    10.7.1. Why do innocent people confess?
    A variety of factors can contribute to a false confession during a police interrogation. Many cases have included a combination of several of these causes. They include:

    •duress
    •coercion
    •intoxication
    •diminished capacity
    •mental impairment
    •ignorance of the law
    •fear of violence
    •the actual infliction of harm
    •the threat of a harsh sentence
    •Misunderstanding the situation


    Some false confessions can be explained by the mental state of the confessor.
    •Confessions obtained from juveniles are often unreliable – children can be easy to manipulate and are not always fully aware of their situation. Children and adults both are often convinced that that they can “go home” as soon as they admit guilt.


    •People with mental disabilities have often falsely confessed because they are tempted to accommodate and agree with authority figures. Further, many law enforcement interrogators are not given any special training on questioning suspects with mental disabilities. An impaired mental state due to mental illness, drugs or alcohol may also elicit false admissions of guilt.


    •Mentally capable adults also give false confessions due to a variety of factors like the length of interrogation, exhaustion or a belief that they can be released after confessing and prove their innocence later.
    Regardless of the age, capacity or state of the confessor, what they often have in common is a decision – at some point during the interrogation process – that confessing will be more beneficial to them than continuing to maintain their innocence.



    10.7.2. From threats to torture
    Sometimes law enforcement use harsh interrogation tactics with uncooperative suspects. But some police officers, convinced of a suspect’s guilt, occasionally use tactics so persuasive that an innocent person feels compelled to confess. Some suspects have confessed to avoid physical harm or discomfort. Others are told they will be convicted with or without a confession, and that their sentence will be more lenient if they confess. Some are told a confession is the only way to avoid the death penalty.



    10.7.3. Recording of interrogations
    The Innocence Project has recommended specific changes in the practice of suspect interrogations in the U.S., including the mandatory electronic recording of interrogations, which has been shown to decrease the number of false confessions and increase the reliability of confessions as evidence.
    Read more about recommended policy reforms to prevent false confessions.


    11. THE CAUSES OF WRONGFUL CONVICTION
    Paul Craig Roberts, The Independent Review Volume VII, Number 4, Spring 2003. http://www.independent.org/tii/media/pdf/tir74roberts.pdf

    The execution of an innocent person cannot be remedied. This fact, together with mounting evidence of innocents on death row, has strengthened opposition to the death penalty. Nevertheless, the death penalty has proved to be a divisive issue. The divide between liberals and conservatives on the death penalty could be bridged by changing the emphasis in the issue to wrongful conviction.

    Many people support the death penalty from a sense of justice. The same sense of justice would cause them to oppose wrongful conviction. The injustice lies in the wrongful conviction, not in the penalty. A wrongfully convicted person who loses good name, family, and career or who suffers a life sentence of prison rape and execution by AIDS deserves our concern as much as the innocent on death row.

    Abolishing the death penalty might worsen the problem of wrongful conviction. Death penalty cases receive far more scrutiny than other criminal cases. If police and prosecutors cannot identify and convict the guilty party in capital crime cases, where evidence and procedures are more closely examined, what must be the rate of wrongful conviction for less-serious crimes, especially those for which conviction is obtained by plea bargain? Abolishing the death penalty might reduce the attention given to the issue of wrongful conviction in general.

    Most of the scrutiny given to death penalty cases is a search for legal error. It is much more difficult to detect suborned perjury and the suppression of exculpatory {567} evidence because they are not in the legal record. Nevertheless, innocence projects and people convinced of a convicted person’s innocence do sometimes succeed in bringing to light prosecutorial misconduct that secured the conviction. DNA evidence has been especially productive of success in overturning wrongful convictions based on junk science, false testimony, and mistaken identity.

    A consensus against wrongful conviction is hampered by ideology that portrays wrongful conviction as a racially motivated phenomenon or as the operational result of “the white male hegemonic order.” Wrongful conviction is too widespread and serious a problem to be politicized. In fact, inner-city black juries are more suspicious of cases brought by police and prosecutors than are white suburban juries. If it were not for coercive plea bargains, inner-city blacks would face a lower risk of wrongful conviction than whites. The focus on racial bias cloaks the real problem of prosecutorial misconduct.

    The older Marxist view that justice is a function of the size of the pocketbook — the rich get it and the poor don’t — has no credibility in our time of asset freezes and prosecutors in search of high-profile cases. Vast sums of money could not protect Michael Milken and Leona Helmsley from wrongful conviction, nor did money protect Exxon, Michael Zinn (Zinn 1999), Charles Keating (Keating v. Hood 1996), and the law firm of Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler (Roberts and Stratton 2000).

    It is easier to frame a white-collar defendant than to frame a poor member of a minority group. The common-law crimes associated with the poor — theft, assault, murder — are well defined. Frame-ups for such crimes require prosecutors to suborn perjury, suppress exculpatory evidence, and coerce false confession. To frame a white-collar victim, a prosecutor need only interpret an arcane regulation differently or with a new slant. 

    Politicizing wrongful conviction as a manifestation of racial or class prejudice does not serve the cause of justice. In our time of asset freezes, asset forfeitures, coercive plea bargains, and budget-driven conviction rates, as well as the demise of the prosecutorial ethic and the erosion of what William Blackstone ([1765–69] 1979) called “the Rights of Englishmen,” no one is safe.

    The Causes of Wrongful Conviction
    In this article, I am focusing on the causes of wrongful conviction. Correcting the problem will require both changing the incentives that police and prosecutors face and resurrecting the belief that the function of justice is to find the truth. Procedural and evidentiary reforms — such as those suggested by Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld, and Jim Dwyer (2000, 255–60) — would reduce the rate of wrongful conviction. 

    However, such reforms alone cannot remedy the inroads that a Benthamite view of law has made on the Blackstonian view. Blackstone conceived of law as the people’s shield. It is better, he said, for ten guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to {569} be convicted. In contrast, Bentham viewed the law as a weapon the government wields to punish criminals or anyone else in the name of the greatest good for the greatest number. He believed in rounding up people who might commit crimes. He wanted to restore torture to aid in securing convictions, and he believed that a defendant’s lawyer had an obligation to aid the prosecution.

    Wrongful conviction is on the rise because the protections against it have been eroded by the pursuit of devils — drug dealers, child molesters, environmental polluters, white-collar criminals, and terrorists — all of whom must be rounded up at all cost. In doing so, we have done what Sir Thomas More warns against in the play A Man for All Seasons: we have cut a great swath in the law.

    Blackstone called the legal principles that made the law a shield “the Rights of Englishmen.” These rights include due process, the attorney-client privilege, equality before the law, the right to confront adverse witnesses, and the prohibitions against crimes without intent, bills of attainder, self-incrimination, retroactive law, and attacks against a person through his property. Each of these principles has been breached. Today prosecutors create bills of attainder by tailoring novel interpretations of law to fit the targeted defendant. A favorite tactic is to criminalize civil infractions, as in the Charles Keating savings-and-loan case (Roberts and Stratton 2000, 51–54). 

    Clark Clifford and Robert Altman were indicted not for a statutory violation but on a prosecutor’s “novel theory” that two separate legal transactions comprised a “conspiracy” (Roberts and Stratton 2000, 54–60). Even accidents and mistakes in filling out government forms have been criminalized, as in the Exxon Valdez and Benjamin Lacy cases (“Bad Apples” 1996, A12; Boot 1995, A14; Roberts and Stratton 2000, 50, 60–61). The ancient principle of mens rea — no crime without intent — has been obliterated.

    The New Deal made its own contribution to wrongful conviction. An important feature of much New Deal legislation was congressional delegation of law-making power to regulatory agencies. Delegation combined statutory authority and enforcement authority in the same hands. The bureaucrats’ ability to define criminal offenses by their interpretation of the regulations that they write gives regulatory police vast discretion. 

    A cooperative “offender” may get off with a civil penalty, whereas a person who sticks up for his rights or a person who presents a high-profile opportunity to an ambitious prosecutor may receive a criminal indictment. The bureaucrats’ ability to create criminal offenses spontaneously by interpretation makes law uncertain and renders it unable to fulfill its purpose of commanding what is right and prohibiting what is wrong.

    In 1990, U.S. assistant attorney general Stuart M. Gerson expressed Bentham’s belief about the proper function of lawyers when he indicted the blue-chip law firm Kaye, Scholer as “an abettor of crime” for not divulging to thrift regulators information pertaining to its client Charles Keating and his Lincoln Savings and Loan (Roberts and Stratton 2000, 107–10). The Justice Department’s indictment ignored the fact that Keating’s crime had not been established at the time of the law firm’s indictment.

    In 1996, federal district judge John G. Davies overturned Keating’s later conviction as a violation of mens rea and the constitutional prohibition of ex post facto law (Keating v. Hood), but Kaye, Scholer still suffered the loss of the $41 million it paid to settle the Justice Department’s indictment.

    The Justice Department coerced the law firm into that settlement by freezing its assets and its four hundred partners’ personal assets (Roberts and Stratton 2000, 107). Many prominent legal authorities regard the government’s action as illegal, but Kaye, Scholer, unable to meet its payroll or pay its bills, was powerless to resist the coercion. Not even a prominent law firm can hold the Justice Department accountable if its assets and those of its partners are frozen. Prosecutors enjoy an enormous degree of immunity from prosecution and civil lawsuit even when their unlawful and improper actions are exposed.

    The asset-freeze and forfeiture laws were intended to be applied to mobsters and drug dealers. However, the laws’ application was quickly expanded. The majority of people whose assets are confiscated are innocent property owners. In 80 percent of forfeitures, no charges are filed against the owners of confiscated property (Levy 1996, 127). For law enforcement agencies, the forfeiture laws have created an off-budget funding source beyond the control of legislators. In 1990, a Justice Department memo for U.S. attorneys stressed: “Every effort must be made to increase forfeiture income during the remaining months of 1990” (Roberts and Stratton 2000, 126; see also Miniter 1993, 33). House judiciary committee chairman Henry Hyde warned that the forfeiture laws target property, not crime. The result, he said, is that Americans face “endless possibilities to be caught in the snare of government forfeiture” (Hyde 1995, 10).

    Every area of law reflects widespread disregard for the “Rights of Englishmen.” Superfund law takes retroactive law back generations and places liability on people and organizations that never contributed an ounce of hazardous waste to a Superfund site (Roberts and Stratton 2000, 70–81). In child abuse cases, due process and the right to confront one’s accusers do not exist. Anonymous allegations serve as grounds for seizing children and placing them in the hands of “therapists” who coax them into accusations (Lyon 1998; Roberts and Stratton 2000, 144). The Justice Department and the Housing and Urban Development Department have coerced neighborhoods that are legally using local zoning ordinances to keep out commercially operated halfway houses and drug-treatment clinics into abandoning their right to equal standing under the law (Roberts and Stratton 2000, 113–21).

    The law as Blackstone understood it has been lost. Formerly, prosecutorial behavior was regulated by conscience and by the carefully inculcated ethic that the prosecutor’s duty is to serve justice by finding the truth. The purpose of a trial was to weigh the evidence for and against the defendant, not to convict him at any cost. A prosecutor’s career and self-esteem did not depend on his conviction rate. A prosecutor who suborned perjury or withheld exculpatory evidence in order to win a case was regarded as a shameful figure and an embarrassment to the law. {571}

    Crowded court dockets (springing in large part from the conservatives’ war on drugs), bureaucracy, budgetary pressures, and careerism have contributed to elevating ambition above justice. The emergence of moral causes or ends that justify the means, such as “saving our children from drugs” and “making environmental polluters pay,” has contributed greatly to the breakdown of prosecutorial restraint. Today a prosecutor who gives the defendant the benefit of the doubt is regarded as a failure. Robert Merkel, a U.S. attorney during 1982–88, says that prosecution “is a result-oriented process today, fairness be damned” (Moushey 1998, 3). 

    Merkle says prosecutors are pressured to justify budgets with convictions, “and that causes them to prosecute absolutely bogus cases to get those statistics” (Moushey 1998, 4). In 1998, former deputy U.S. attorney general Arnold I. Burns wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “it is time for a sober reassessment of the power we have concentrated in the hands of prosecutors and the alarming absence of effective checks and balances to prevent the widespread abuse of that power” (A23). A law school textbook, Prosecutorial Misconduct, now in its second edition (Gershman 1991), is evidence that the problem is not going away on its own.

    Honest prosecutors have the same interest as defendants in the integrity of the criminal justice system. It is in their interest that withholding exculpatory evidence not become routine and that suborned perjury not become the only evidence in a case. Juries alone are not a deterrent. Juries are often unaware that the witness giving incriminating testimony not only has been rehearsed in the role but also has been paid by the prosecutor with money or reduced prison time or dropped charges.

    In 1998, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette summed up its investigative reports of prosecutorial misconduct as follows:

    Hundreds of times during the past 10 years, federal agents and prosecutorshave pursued justice by breaking the law. They lied, hid evidence, distorted facts, engaged in cover-ups, paid for perjury and set-up innocent people in a relentless effort to win indictments, guilty pleas and convictions. Rarely were these federal officials punished for their misconduct. . . . Perjury has become the coin of the realm in federal law enforcement. People’s homes are invaded because of lies. People are arrested because of lies. People go to prison because of lies. People stay in prison because of lies, and bad guys go free because of lies. (Moushey 1998, 40)

    A new practice known as “jumping on the bus” has taken the prosecutorial ethic to the rock-bottom depth. Informants sell information on unsolved cases to an inmate, or prosecutors and federal agents feed this material to an inmate. The inmate memorizes the case, thereby seeming to have inside knowledge when he comes forward with information to trade in exchange for a reduced sentence. In the absence of evidence, this practice is used sometimes against a person only believed to be guilty. Sometimes it is used to close unsolved cases, and sometimes it occurs at an inmate’s initiative. Formerly, self-serving accusations by criminals were treated only as leads to be investigated. If the leads proved helpful, evidence still had to be marshaled. Today the accusation is the evidence. Thus, the criminal element itself has a big say in who goes to prison.
    Weak and fabricated evidence suffices because seldom is it tested in court. According to the Justice Department, only approximately one case in twenty goes to trial; the rest are settled with pleas (Maguire and Pastore 1995, 461–63, 483–86). Conservatives believe that the problem with plea bargaining is that it permits criminals to get off too lightly, thus undermining the deterrent effect of punishment. However, the problem with plea bargains is far more serious.

    Plea bargains have corrupted the justice system by creating fictional crimes in place of real ones. The practice of having people admit to what did not happen in order to avoid charges for what did happen creates a legal culture that elevates fiction over truth. By making the facts of the case malleable, plea bargains enable prosecutors to supplement weak evidence with psychological pressure. Legal scholar John Langbein compares “the modern American plea bargaining system” with “the ancient system of judicial torture” (1978, 8). Many innocent people cop a plea just to end their ordeal. Confession and self-incrimination have replaced the jury trial. Just as Bentham wanted, torture has been resurrected as a principal method of conviction. As this legal culture now operates, it permits prosecutors to bring charges in the absence of crimes.

    Plea bargaining is a major cause of wrongful conviction. First, plea bargains undermine police investigative work. Because few cases go to trial, police have learned that their evidence is seldom tested in the courtroom. Carelessness creeps in. Sloppy investigations are less likely to lead to apprehension of the guilty party. Second, plea bargaining greatly increases the number of cases that can be prosecuted. Prosecutors have found that they can coerce a plea and elevate their conviction rate by raising the number and seriousness of the charges that they throw at a defendant. Counsel advises defendants that conviction at trial on even one charge can carry more severe punishment than a plea to a lesser charge. The sentencing differential alone is enough to make plea bargaining coercive.

    A circularity of reasoning justifies plea bargaining. Without plea bargaining, the argument goes, the courts would not be able to handle the caseload. This argument is unconvincing. The obvious solution is to create enough courts to handle the case-load or to reduce the caseload by eliminating victimless crimes, such as drug possession and trumped-up charges based on regulatory interpretation. Without the war on drugs, asset forfeiture, and months-long court disputes over the meaning of a lengthy arcane regulation, there would be enough courts and judges to handle the serious crimes.

    Every law, regulation, or reform has unintended consequences. A case can be made that the exclusionary rule changed the culture of the criminal justice system and led to the coerced plea bargain. By releasing criminals known to be guilty, the exclusionary rule turned the criminal justice system into a lottery for police, prosecutors, {573} and criminals alike. The result was demoralized prosecutors who began to see in the plea bargain a way to game the system back toward conviction. The unintended consequence of the exclusionary rule was cultural change. The criminal justice system deemphasized pursuit of the truth and focused on convicting the defendant.

    Once we understand that the law has been lost, it is easy to understand why there are innocents on death row. As important as it is to get these innocents off death row, new victims of the system can be put there faster than innocence projects can rescue them. Moreover, the preoccupation with capital offenses and with cases in which DNA evidence can resolve the doubt about innocence leaves the vast majority of wrongfully convicted persons without a prayer.

    To make a dent in wrongful conviction, we must rethink the approach. Innocence projects and law professors who find injustice a burden on the conscience can work to reestablish the inculcation of the ethic in law school, an ethic so well expressed by George Sutherland (Berger v. U.S. 1935) and Robert Jackson (1940): that the prosecutor’s duty is to see that justice is done, not to win convictions. If the law schools can be carried, so can the bar association and the journalism schools. Stories about wrongful prosecution should become a media priority.

    Law schools must deal as well with the Benthamite influences that have eroded the “Rights of Englishmen” and have made law a weapon in the hands of government. If Benthamite collectivism, aided by deconstructionism and cultural Marxism, has undermined the legal principles that protect individuals from government power, nothing can be done about wrongful conviction until the Blackstonian principles are restored.

    Progress against wrongful conviction also requires a return to constitutionalism. To many lawyers, “constitutional protection” means the granting of protected minority status by a federal judge. If antipathy to guns is more important that the Second Amendment, offense to preferred minorities more important than the First Amendment, and race and gender quotas more important than equality before the law, it is little wonder that a prosecutor’s conviction rate is more important than a fair trial and that justice plays second fiddle to clearing the court docket.

    It is often said that Americans live under the rule of law. It is closer to the truth to say that Americans live under the rule of regulators. Theodore Lowi (1979) has argued that accountable law in the United States ceased seventy years ago with the delegation of law-making power to the executive branch in violation of the principle that a delegated power cannot itself be delegated. The people delegated law-making power to Congress, where under our system of government it must reside forever. First, however, law must be put back in the hands of Congress, an unlikely event when government is so large that it involves itself in every aspect of life. It is just as unlikely that trials will take the place of plea bargains as long as so many laws create so many crimes, and so few resources are devoted to courts and trials. 

    The problem of wrongful conviction is much larger than many of its antagonists appreciate. We will spin our wheels expending vast energies in freeing a few innocent people, and we must do what we can. But we also must gird for battle and restore the lost law. Once the “Rights of Englishmen” are no longer even a memory, justice will be gone as well.

    (Paul Craig Roberts is chairman and John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy; senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University; and research fellow at The Independent Institute. The Independent Review, v. VII, n.4, Spring 2003, ISSN 1086-1653, Copyright © 2003, pp. 567– 574).


    12. LISTS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE WRONGLY CONVICTED OF CRIMES:

    In the American justice system, everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty.  But what happens when someone who is "proven guilty" is actually innocent?  We have an appeal process, but it can take years for a new trial, all while the innocent person remains incarcerated.  An estimated 2.3 to 5 percent of all prisoners are thought to actually be innocent.
    Below is a list of some of those very people who were convicted, only to be proven innocent later.

    1. Kirk Noble Bloodsworth (www.statepress.com)
    Kirk Bloodsworth was the very first American death row inmate to be exonerated due to DNA evidence.  Bloodsworth was convicted of rape and premeditated murder in 1984.  For nine years he maintained his innocence.  He spent two years on death row until 1992, when DNA testing was first introduced.  Bloodsworth's DNA was compared with DNA found at the crime scene, and they were not a match.  What's strangely coincidental was that the person who actually committed the crime, Kim Ruffner, was locked up for a different crime a month after the murder in 1984, and was in the cell directly below Bloodworth's cell.

    2. Kenny Waters
    *SPOILER ALERT* If you haven't seen the movie "Conviction" and are planning on seeing it, you should probably skip this part and move on to our third wrongful conviction.  We're about to give away the ending of the real-life story upon which the movie was based.  After a slew of other people's false testimonies, Kenny Waters was convicted of murder in 1983.  He spent the next 18 years in prison until he was finally exonerated on June 19, 2001, based on the fact that his DNA did not match the DNA of the perpetrator.  His sister, Betty Anne Waters, put herself through college and law school in order to defend her brother in court.  The most heartbreaking part of this case, however, was that less than six months after he was finally released from prison, he died in an accident where he fell and suffered a skull fracture.  Kenny Water's estate sued for his wrongfully incarceration and was awarded $3.5 million in 2009.

    3. Barney Brown (www.newsone.com)
    He was just 15 years when he was sentenced to life in prison.  In 1970, Barney Brown was convicted of raping a woman and robbing her husband.  Barney Brown was first tried as a juvenile, and when the victim could not identify Brown, the judge acquitted him anyway.  But that did not stop the prosecution from violating double jeopardy and trying Brown as an adult.  They sought the death penalty, but instead they got a conviction and a life sentence.  Brown spent 38 years in prison before he was finally released from prison.  Brown had been to trial twice for the same crime, which is unconstitutional; he was at first acquitted, then convicted.  In prison, though, Brown earned a high school and college degree.  Brown now speaks about never giving up hope.

    4. Luis Diaz (www.dailylife.com)
    Luis Diaz was sentenced to multiple life sentences in 1980 after being found guilty of seven separate sexual assault cases.  He was charged with eight counts of sexual assault, battery, and kidnapping.  A search of Diaz' home found no items missing from the victims, and no weapon or DNA was ever found on Diaz, in his home, or in his car.  And even though all of the victims previously described their attacker as someone who was between 6' and 6'2" tall and weighed over 200 pounds, at just 5'3" and 134 pounds, Diaz was picked out of lineup and pointed out in the courtroom.  After spending 25 years in prison, in 2005, Diaz was finally freed when his DNA was not a match to any of the evidence for any of the cases, and his innocence was finally proven.

    5. Ralph Armstrong (www. innocenceproject.org)
    Ralph Armstrong was convicted of murdering and sexually assaulting a 19-year-old college student in her apartment.  In 1981, Armstrong was given a life sentence plus 16 years for first-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault.  Ralph knew the victim, had been using drugs with her the night of her murder, and he even owed the victim's boyfriend $400.  The victim's neighbor described someone of similar build to Armstrong leaving the victim's apartment, and the detectives actually had the witness hypnotized.  With that testimony and hair found at the crime that was described to be similar to Armstrong's hair, he was convicted.  In 2005, Armstrong's conviction was overturned after a DNA test was conducted, and Armstrong was granted a new trial.  Later it was learned that the prosecution had ordered secret DNA tests and destroyed evidence to ensure an Armstrong conviction.  Finally in 2009, after almost 30 years in prison, Armstrong was exonerated. (http://www.forensicscience.net/innocent-people)

    6. Cornelius Dupree Jr. Texan declared innocent after 30 years in prison. A Dallas court overturns his conviction after DNA evidence clears him. 
    Cornelius Dupree Jr., right, and his wife Selma Perkins Dupree embrace. Dupree, who made parole six months ago, was declared innocent Tuesday of an aggravated robbery conviction that put him in prison for 30 years, more than any other DNA exoneree in Texas. By Jeff Carlton

    A Texas man declared innocent Tuesday after 30 years in prison could have cut short his prison stint twice and made parole — if only he would admit he was a sex offender.

    But Cornelius Dupree Jr. refused to do so, doggedly maintaining his innocence in a 1979 rape and robbery, in the process serving more time for a crime he didn't commit than any other Texas inmate exonerated by DNA evidence.
    "Whatever your truth is, you have to stick with it," Dupree, 51, said Tuesday, minutes after a Dallas judge overturned his conviction. 

    7. John Boyle, Innocent after 25 yrs; Court quashes Ira Conviction
    The Mirror (London, England)  http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-100872956.html. April 30, 2003 | Copyright.  
    A FATHER of five was cleared yesterday of terrorist offences 25 years after he was jailed.

    John Boyle, 45, left the Court of Appeal in Belfast after his conviction was quashed saying he was relieved and delighted.  He said: "I'm very pleased that a miscarriage of justice has been recognised even if it took a long, long time."

    Mr Boyle, from the Markets area of Belfast, was jailed for 12 years in 1977 after being found guilty of being part of an IRA bid to murder a policeman. But a special investigation set up four years ago proved that police interview notes at the time had been altered.
    And yesterday … 

    8. Willie Davis was False Arrest and False Accused
    Willie Davis brought suit against the City of Chicago and several officers alleging that they falsely arrested him and charged him with possession of a gun and drugs that were not his

    Davis v. Dieball, et al., 09 C 2804 – Willie Davis brought suit against the City of Chicago and several officers alleging that they falsely arrested him and charged him with possession of a gun and drugs that were not his. Defendants allege that they stopped Davis in his car, and found him in possession of drugs and a gun. He was charged and arrested for those crimes. After pre-trial investigation corroborated the officers’ version of events, Davis voluntarily dismissed his case.

    Stephan Sanders alleged that he was falsely arrested and maliciously prosecuted on gun charges in an effort by police to cover up the fact that an off-duty police officer pulled a gun on him during a during a traffic stop and used racial epithets

    Sanders v. City of Chicago, et al. – Stephan Sanders alleged that he was falsely arrested and maliciously prosecuted on gun charges in an effort by police to cover up the fact that an off-duty police officer pulled a gun on him during a during a traffic stop and used racial epithets. The lawsuit was quickly dropped after defense attorneys uncovered the fact that Mr. Sanders had been working as a police dispatcher in Arizona and used his office to find social security numbers that would conceal his criminal background.

    9. Larry Peterson

    Incident Date: 8/24/87
    Jurisdiction: NJ
    Charge: Capital Murder, Aggravated Sexual Assault
    Conviction: Felony Murder, Aggravated Sexual Assault
    Sentence: Life +
    Year of Conviction: 1989
    Exoneration Date: 5/26/06
    Sentence Served: 16.5 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Informants, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes

    Larry Peterson was exonerated on May 26, 2006, after Burlington County, New Jersey, prosecutors dismissed the murder and sexual assault indictment against him. Peterson had been convicted in March 1989 and was released after posting bail and pending a new trial in August 2005.


    The Crime
    On the morning of August 24, 1987, the victim’s body was found on a dirt road in Burlington County, New Jersey, by a woman walking her dog. She had been manually strangled and sexually assaulted. Sticks were in her mouth and vagina and on the ground near her. She was partially nude and some of her clothing had been torn.


    The Identification
    Both the victim’s best friend and a former boyfriend called the prosecutor’s office to report that Larry Peterson, who also lived in the area, had fresh “fingernail” scratch marks on his arms. Peterson went to the police voluntarily and denied committing the murder.


    Three men interviewed by police said that they were with Peterson at approximately the same time as the victim was found. The three men, after a number of interrogations, told police that Peterson had confessed to them while they were in the car together on the way to work. In this confession, Peterson allegedly told them that he ripped the victim’s clothing off, had oral and vaginal sex with her, choked her, and put sticks in her.


    A jailhouse snitch with charges pending in three counties also testified at trial that he had heard Peterson admit that he had killed the victim.


    The Biological Evidence

    A forensic scientist with the New Jersey State Police Laboratory System testified that her hair comparison analysis linked Peterson to the murder. She identified three foreign pubic hairs in the victim’s pubic combings that she said exhibited the same physical and microscopic characteristics as Peterson’s. She also linked a head hair fragment recovered from the bag that the victim was transported in to Peterson. 


    Lastly, she examined a stick found 40 feet away from the victim and concluded that there were three of the victim’s pubic hairs, one of her head hairs, and three of Peterson’s pubic hairs on the stick. Because the victim had sex with two consensual partners on the night of the murder, the forensic scientist also got samples of the partners’ hairs. She concluded that neither of the consensual partners were the donors of the hairs.
    Hair evidence cannot be individualized based on microscopic analysis.  Because there is not adequate empirical data on the frequency of various class characteristics in human hair, it is impossible to say definitively that strands of hair came from a particular person — as the analyst in Peterson’s case did.


    Another forensic scientist with the New Jersey State Police testified that there was seminal fluid on the victim’s jeans and sperm on her underwear. No seminal fluid or sperm was found in her rape kit. All tests on these items of evidence were inconclusive at the time of trial.


    The Defense

    Peterson testified in his own defense at trial. Alibi witnesses supported his whereabouts during the time of the crime. Work records also showed that he did not work on the day that the victim was found – the day he supposedly confessed on his way to work.


    The jury convicted Peterson of felony murder and aggravated sexual assault in March 1989. He was sentenced to life plus twenty years in prison.


    Post-Conviction
    Peterson sought access to DNA testing in the early 1990s. In 1995, the Innocence Project began working on Peterson’s case. Peterson won a motion for DNA testing in 2003. The hairs, rape kit, clothing, and fingernail scrapings were sent to the Serological Research Institute (SERI), where STR and mitochondrial DNA tests were performed. In 2005, SERI reported the results of testing: Peterson was excluded as a contributor of any and all of the biological evidence.


    The pubic hairs collected from the victim’s pubic combings and stick from the crime scene all matched the victim. Although the New Jersey State Police Laboratory had reported that there was no semen in the victim’s rape kit, SERI identified sperm on her oral, vaginal, and anal swabs. Two different male profiles were found. One of the males was one of the victim’s consensual partners, and his profile was found on her underwear, jeans, and rape kit. 


    The other unknown male was found on all of the swabs in her rape kit. Significantly, this unknown male profile was not found on the victim’s underwear or jeans, indicating that she did not put these items of clothing back on before she was killed, consistent with the fact that she was found partially nude. Further, the victim’s fingernail scrapings were subjected to testing and SERI found the profile of the same unknown male that deposited the sperm found in the victim’s mouth, vagina, and anus.


    Based on this evidence, Peterson’s conviction was vacated in July 2005. Despite evidence demonstrating that none of the hairs attributed to Peterson belonged to him and the presence of an unknown male’s sperm on the victim’s oral, vaginal, and anal swabs, the prosecution indicated that they would re-try Peterson. Peterson was released in August 2005 after borrowing thousands of dollars to post bail.


    On May 26, 2006, the prosecution decided to drop all charges against Peterson and his conviction was vacated.
    10. Kenneth Adams

    Incident Date: 5/11/78
    Jurisdiction: IL
    Charge: Murder, Rape
    Conviction: Murder, Rape
    Sentence: 75 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1979
    Exoneration Date: 7/2/96
    Sentence Served: 17.5 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Yes
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, False Confessions / Admissions, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes

    In 1978, along with friends Dennis Williams and Willie Rainge, Kenneth Adams was convicted of gang-raping and murdering a twenty-three year old woman and murdering her fiance. The victims were abducted from a filling station close to where the male victim worked. The female victim was repeatedly raped in an abandoned townhouse in what is now Ford Heights and then both victims were shot and killed. 

    Adams was sentenced to seventy-five years in prison, Williams to death, and Rainge to life without parole. The main evidence in the case was the identification testimony of a witness who claimed she saw four men commit the crimes. The fourth man, Verneal Jimerson, was convicted and sent to death row. The four young men convicted for this crime were to become known as the Ford Heights Four.

    Williams, Adams and Rainge were tried together in 1978, and represented by an attorney named Archie Weston. The state's chief witness in the case, Paula Gray, claimed to have been at the scene of the crime with the four men. After her testimony secured indictments of all four men, she recanted and the charges against Jimerson were dropped. 

    During trial, the state presented eyewitness testimony placing Williams, Adams and Rainge near the scene of the crime at the time of the crime. There was a major timing inconsistency in this witness' account, but Weston failed to point it out to the jury.  A state expert testified improperly that a hair found in Williams' car microscopically "matched" Williams' hair, saying: “Just like if you drop two dollar bills and you see dollar bills on the floor. You see two one dollar bills. It's obvious." Microscopic hair comparison can never prove a conclusive match, but Weston failed to challenge this evidence. Hair evidence cannot be individualized based on microscopic analysis.  

    Because there is not adequate empirical data on the frequency of various class characteristics in human hair, it is impossible to say definitively that strands of hair “matched” a particular person. There was also incorrect serology testimony in the case.

    Williams won a new trial in 1985. Gray, who had been convicted as an accomplice and for perjury after her recantation, reverted to her original story and testified against Williams to gain her own release from prison. The charges against Jimerson were also refiled and both men were convicted and sentenced to death.

    Archie Weston would later admit during a hearing in a different case that he was so stressed during the trial of Williams, Adams and Rainge that he couldn't think straight. He was disbarred for fraud committed in another case. Adams's appeals were denied, but Williams and Rainge won new trials and were convicted again based on both the eyewitness testimony and the perjured testimony that had convicted Jimerson. 

    With the help of David Protess, Rob Warden, and a team of journalism students from Northwestern University, the four men gained access to the evidence for DNA testing. They also discovered that the police had been tipped to the identity of the actual perpetrators, but did not pursue the lead. Eventually, DNA testing exonerated all four men and implicated three other men, two of whom confessed and pleaded guilty to the crimes in 1997.


    The prosecution's star witness later recanted her story, saying she made it up because she felt pressured and threatened by the police. The Ford Heights Four settled civil claims for $36 million against the police officers involved in the original investigation. Governor Jim Edgar granted pardons to all four men, who were released from prison in 1996.

    11. Gilbert Alejandro
    Incident Year: 1990
    Jurisdiction: TX
    Charge: Sexual Assault
    Conviction: Aggravated Sexual Assault
    Sentence: 12 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1990
    Exoneration Date: 9/21/94
    Sentence Served: 3.5 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes


    Gilbert Alejandro was convicted of aggravated sexual assault in Ulvade County, Texas, in 1990. He was freed in 1994, one of many innocent men who had been convicted due to false testimony by Fred Zain.


    The crime took place in the victim's apartment, where she was pulled inside the door, raped while her face was covered with a pillow, and threatened with death if she should call for help. The victim described her attacker, whom she glanced at during the attack, as Hispanic, about six feet tall, and wearing a white cap. Although police questioned a man who was wearing clothes similar to this description, no arrest was made. Instead, the police charged Alejandro with the crime some months later.


    The victim failed to identify Alejandro in several photo lineups. She made one identification from a sketch lineup and later identified him in a live lineup. The most damaging testimony, however, came from Fred Zain, who reported that DNA testing that he performed on the evidence conclusively matched Alejandro. In cross examination, Zain reiterated his findings and pronounced that he was absolutely sure of his results and his testimony.


    A subsequent reexamination of the DNA report yielded completely different results. Testing had not even been completed when Zain had issued his report. The final test results, completed after the trial, revealed that Alejandro was, in fact, excluded as the depositor of spermatozoa on the victim's clothing. Based on these test results, Alejandro's conviction was overturned and he was freed from prison.

    Gilbert Alejandro had spent almost four years in prison on a twelve year sentence.

    12. Marvin Anderson

    Incident Date: 7/17/82
    Jurisdiction: VA
    Charge: Rape, Abduction, Sodomy, Robbery
    Conviction: Rape (2 cts.), Forcible Sodomy, Abduction, Robbery
    Sentence: 210 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1982
    Exoneration Date: 8/21/02
    Sentence Served: 15 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Yes
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Government Misconduct, Bad Lawyering
    Compensation? Yes

    In December 2001, Marvin Lamont Anderson became the ninety-ninth person in the United States to be exonerated due to postconviction DNA testing. On December 14, 1982, then eighteen years old, he was convicted by a jury of robbery, forcible sodomy, abduction, and two counts of rape. The court sentenced Anderson to a total of two hundred and ten years imprisonment in the Virginia State Penitentiary. Anderson went to prison in 1983 and was released after fifteen years, facing lifetime parole. After being paroled, Anderson continued his efforts to clear his name.

    The victim in this case, a young white woman, was brutally raped on July 17, 1982, by a black man who was a total stranger. He approached her on a bicycle. The assailant beat her repeatedly, threatened her with a gun, raped her, and sodomized her. After she reported the crime, a police officer singled out Marvin Anderson as a suspect because the perpetrator had told the victim that he "had a white girl," and Marvin Anderson was the only black man the officer knew who lived with a white woman. 

    Because Anderson had no criminal record, the officer went to Anderson's employer and obtained a color employment photo identification card. The victim was shown the color identification card and a half dozen black-and-white mug shots and then asked to pick the perpetrator. The victim identified Anderson as her assailant. Within an hour of the photo spread, she was asked to identify her assailant from a lineup. Marvin Anderson was the only person in the lineup whose picture was in the original photo array shown to the victim. She identified him in the lineup as well.


    At trial, the victim testified in detail regarding the assault. In addition to the rape, she testified that her assailant pried her mouth open and inserted his penis and that he forced her to consume fecal matter and urinated on her. She again identified Anderson as her assailant. The serology work completed by the Virginia Bureau of Forensic Science was uninformative.


    Anderson's trial counsel offered an alibi defense which included Anderson's white girlfriend. From the very beginning of the case, people in the community became aware that the most likely suspect was another black man named John Otis Lincoln. The bicycle that had been identified as being used by the assailant was identified by the owner, who said that Lincoln had stolen it from him approximately one half hour before the rape. Although Anderson requested that his attorney call both the owner of the bicycle and Lincoln as witnesses, his counsel declined. An all white jury convicted Anderson on all counts. Although it was his first conflict with the law, he received consecutive sentences totaling two hundred and ten years.


    In 1988, John Otis Lincoln came forward and admitted his involvement in the crime in an effort to clear Anderson. At a state habeas hearing in August 1988, Lincoln confessed and offered details of the crime under oath, in open court. Nevertheless, the same judge that presided over the original trial declared Lincoln a liar and refused to vacate the conviction. A coalition of civil rights groups, church leaders, and members of the state legislature petitioned then governor Wilder for clemency in 1993, which was denied.


    In the years after his conviction, after DNA testing became widely available, Anderson sought to prove his innocence of the crime. He insisted that the spermatozoa and semen samples be subjected to DNA analysis. His lawyers were told by the police, prosecutor, and court that the rape kit and its contents had been destroyed. Anderson then contacted the Innocence Project and his case was accepted in 1994.


    In 2001, Dr. Paul Ferrara, Director of the Virginia Division of Forensic Science, advised the Innocence Project that certain physical evidence from the case - including sperm and semen samples recovered from the victim's body - had been located in the laboratory notebook of the criminalist who performed conventional serology in 1982. Had that criminalist followed policy and returned the partially used swabs to the rape kit, all evidence in this case would have been forever lost.


    The Innocence Project contacted the Commonwealth Attorney for Hanover County, who agreed that the Division of Forensic Science should conduct DNA tests on the evidence. In April 2001, however, the Director of the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services denied the request for testing, stating that because of "[t]he current number of cases pending in the Division and the potential for establishing an unwelcome precedent," and that Department would permit post-conviction scientific testing "only upon a defendant's attorney showing ample cause for the court or the Governor's Office to order such testing."


    In May 2001, Virginia adopted a new statute, VA Code Sec. 19.2-327.1, that permits individuals convicted of a felony to move the Circuit Court that entered the original conviction to order new scientific analysis of previously untested scientific evidence. The Innocence Project, in conjunction with the Innocence Project of the National Capital Region at American University, filed under this new statute and won in the fall of 2001, initiating the process of getting the evidence in Anderson's case tested.


    Results on December 6, 2001, excluded Anderson as the perpetrator. Because the evidence was heavily degraded, the profile obtained was limited to four STR markers. When the profile was run against Virginia's convicted offender DNA database, it matched two inmates. Although the identity of these two men has not been officially revealed, it appears that one of the inmates is John Otis Lincoln.


    On August 21, 2002, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner granted Anderson a full pardon. He had spent fifteen years in prison and four years on parole fighting to prove his innocence.

    13. Herman Atkins

    Incident Date: 4/8/86
    Jurisdiction: CA
    Charge: Forcible Rape (2 counts), Forcible Oral Cop. (2 counts), Robbery
    Conviction: Forcible Rape (2 counts), Forcible Oral Cop. (2 counts), Robbery
    Sentence: 45 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1988
    Exoneration Date: 2/18/00
    Sentence Served: 11.5 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes

    Herman Atkins was convicted by a jury in 1988 of robbery, rape, forcible oral copulation, and for using a handgun in the commission of these crimes. The victim was raped in a shoe store in Lake Elsinore, California, in 1986. Atkins was sentenced to over forty-five years in prison.


    On April 8, 1986, the victim was working at the shoe store when, sometime between 11:30AM and 12:00PM, she was raped and robbed at gunpoint. During the rape, the assailant ejaculated and wiped the semen from his genitals onto her sweater. The victim called the police and was taken to the hospital where vaginal swabs were collected. Her clothing, including the pink sweater with the semen stains, was collected and marked for identification. She then went to the police station and was shown Elsinore High School yearbooks but was unable to find her assailant. 


    She did not identify Atkins as her assailant until after she was taken to a police station briefing room, where she saw a wanted poster for him on unrelated charges. After seeing the wanted poster, she was shown a photo lineup and identified Atkins as her assailant. A witness who worked at the store next to where the rape occurred was shown the wanted poster with Atkins's picture and identified him as a man who had been in her store earlier that day.


    Atkins's defense was mistaken eyewitness identification. He presented an alibi witness and testified on his own behalf. In addition to the eyewitness identifications, the prosecution proffered testimony from a criminalist with the State of California's Riverside Laboratory. The criminalist testified that the semen found on vaginal swabs was deposited by someone with blood type A and PGM 2+1+. This typing was consistent with both the victim and Atkins. The criminalist also testified that the semen stain recovered from the victim's sweater revealed the presence of a type A secretor and that about 25.9% of the black population have type A blood, and 80% of the population are secretors. 


    Further, he testified that approximately 21.4% of the population (both caucasian and black) have PGM Type 2+1+. He concluded that, based on these numbers, Atkins was included in a population of approximately 4.4% of people who could have committed this rape. The prosecutor argued during summation that this evidence was "evidence [which] can't be used to say this is exactly [the defendant], but it excludes a large percentage of the people, and does not exclude him, and that's corroboration."


    Atkins's case was accepted by the Innocence Project in 1993. After locating the sweater and vaginal swabs in 1995, the Innocence Project began trying to gain access to the evidence for DNA testing. The prosecution refused to allow access to the evidence. In 1999, the Innocence Project filed a motion to compel the prosecutor to relinquish control of the evidence and send it to a laboratory for the purposes of DNA testing. The motion was granted and the evidence was sent to Forensic Science Associates.


    After receiving the specimens, which consisted of biological evidence used at trial, FSA performed STR based DNA testing on the semen stains found on the victim's sweater. The vaginal swabs were consumed by the serological testing conducted at the time of trial and thus not amenable to DNA testing. Testing was conducted on three separate areas of the sweater. In all three areas, the results were consistent. The spermatozoa found were determined to be from someone other than Atkins. Based on the test results, Herman Atkins was released from prison in February 2000, after spending twelve years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
    14. Steven Avery
    Incident Year: 1985
    Jurisdiction: WI
    Charge: Sexual Assault, Attempted Murder, False Imprisonment
    Conviction: Sexual Assault, Attempted Murder, False Imprisonment
    Sentence: 32 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1985
    Exoneration Date: 9/11/03
    Sentence Served: 17.5 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Yes
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes

    15. William D. Avery
    Incident Year: 1998
    Jurisdiction: WI
    Charge: First-degree reckless homicide
    Conviction: First-degree reckless homicide
    Sentence: 40 years
    Year of Conviction: 2004
    Exoneration Date: 9/21/10
    Sentence Served: 6 years
    Real perpetrator found? Yes
    Contributing Causes: Informants
    Compensation? Not Yet



    William D. Avery was exonerated on September 21, 2010, after serving 6 years for a 1998 murder he didn’t commit.



    16. David Ayers

    Incident Date: 12/17/99
    Jurisdiction:
    Charge: Aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, and aggravated burglary
    Conviction: Aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, and aggravated burglary
    Sentence: Life without parole

    Year of Conviction: 2000
    Exoneration Date: 9/12/11
    Sentence Served: 11 Years
    Real perpetrator found?
    Contributing Causes: Informants
    Compensation?
    David Ayers was exonerated and released on September 12, 2011, after serving 11 years in Ohio prisons for a murder DNA evidence shows he didn’t commit. He was represented by attorneys at the Ohio Innocence Project.


    17. David Ayers Ex-inmate Revels in his Freedom.
    DNA testing helps end a decade in prison (http://www.dispatch.com/)
    Finally free, David Ayers, center, hugs John Martin, appellate supervisor of the public defender’s office, as Ayers’ sister, Valerie Ayers, comforts him. 

    The tears rolled past the lipstick stains on David Ayers’ cheeks after he was embraced by his sister for the first time in more than a decade. The emotion of being freed from a murder conviction and being spared the rest of a life sentence left the Cleveland man almost powerless to walk out of the Cuyahoga County Courthouse.

    He leaned on two of his attorneys through the building’s long lobby, asked the revolving glass doors to “hurry” and took a deep gulp of air before exhaling the anxiety and hopelessness that haunted him in his cellblock. “Dear God, finally ... I have freedom,” Ayers said.

    The scene in downtown Cleveland came after a 10-minute hearing during which Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo formally dismissed the murder case against the 54-year-old Ayers, who originally was convicted of killing an elderly woman in December 2000.

    But the outcome wasn’t all good news for Ayers, who was not declared innocent or wrongfully convicted by Russo or the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the case against Ayers, but they still consider him a suspect and reserve the right to reinstate murder, robbery and burglary charges against him if new evidence surfaces.
    The agreement between prosecutors and the Cuyahoga County public defenders representing Ayers came six months after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Ayers’ murder conviction. 

    The appeals court ruled that Ayers’ constitutional rights were violated when a Cuyahoga County judge allowed a jailhouse informant to testify at his trial.

    The Cuyahoga County coroner’s office then performed DNA testing on crime-scene evidence that included a pubic hair found in the victim’s mouth, a bloody towel and swabs that were part of a rape kit. The results of all tests excluded Ayers.
    “He was wrongfully convicted and innocent, period,” said Robert Tobik, chief county public defender. “The DNA testing was significant and helped Mr. Ayers get his life back.”

    Kevin Filiatraut, an assistant county prosecutor, maintained that Ayers’ release was due far more to the appeals court throwing out the testimony of the jailhouse witness than it was to the DNA tests. Filiatraut said prosecutors knew 10 years ago, after performing hair analysis, that the pubic hair found on the victim didn’t match Ayers.

    “We didn’t learn much more from DNA testing than we knew over a decade ago,” Filiatraut said. Ayers’ case was highlighted in the Dispatch series “Test of Convictions,” which exposed Ohio’s flawed evidence-retention and DNA-testing systems.

    The 2008 series had led to the exoneration of three men before Ayers’ release and proved the guilt of four others based on DNA testing during the past two years. The Dispatch reviewed more than 300 cases with the Ohio Innocence Project and highlighted 30 prisoners as prime candidates for testing, including Ayers. As part of the Dispatch project, attorneys for the Innocence Project fought for Ayers to receive testing for years. It originally was denied, but a state appeals court ordered the trial court in Cleveland to allow testing.

    Filiatraut said Ayers remains a suspect in the case because he had access to the victim’s apartment as a security guard and lied when questioned by police. But without the testimony from the case’s key witness or any physical evidence connecting Ayers’ to the crime, prosecutors decided against trying him again. The case is now referred back to the homicide unit of the Cleveland Police Department for further investigation.

    The body of Dorothy Brown was discovered on Dec. 17, 1999, after she was beaten in her Cleveland apartment. Her injuries included a fractured skull, face and finger on each hand. Ayers lived in the apartment building and served as a security guard for the complex.

    Ayers plans to file a civil suit against the state in hopes of being formally declared wrongfully convicted, which likely would entitle him to compensation for his years in prison. The state currently pays about $47,000, plus lost wages, for every year a wrongly convicted person is locked up.

    But money and legal matters were far from the soft-spoken Ayers’ mind as he ordered a corned beef and pastrami sandwich, along with fries and coffee, at a local deli shortly after his release. He talked of wanting to just take a walk in a park, see a movie in a real theater and go sailing on the lake for the first time.

    Ayers, who has never been married and has no children, hopes to return to school and become a nurse. He plans to live with his sister, Valerie, who was the first person to greet her brother when he walked out of the Cuyahoga County jail. He had been in that jail since the appeals court overturned his conviction.

    Valerie Ayers said the hardest part of her brother’s incarceration was having both of their parents die while David was locked up. “It’s been so hard, but I finally get to take my brother home,” she said. After his release, Ayers didn’t utter one bad word about prosecutors or anyone else. “I have no room in my heart for anger. I can’t change what has happened, but I can enjoy what comes next,” he said.

    That was the same approach taken by Robert McClendon and Ray Towler, both of whom were exonerated as a result of the Dispatch project. Both men were there to embrace Ayers when he re-entered society. “I came here to see justice served,” McClendon said. “Our club seems to be growing and growing as part of the innocent movement in our justice system.”

    18. James Bain

    Ty Eppsteiner
    Incident Date: 3/4/74
    Jurisdiction: FL
    Charge:
    Conviction:
    Sentence: Life
    Year of Conviction: 1974
    Exoneration Date: 12/17/09
    Sentence Served: 35 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification
    Compensation? Yes

    James Bain was exonerated on December 17, 2009, after 35 years of wrongful imprisonment in Florida. Bain has spent more years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit than any other person exonerated through DNA testing in the United States. The Innocence Project of Florida helped Bain prove his innocence of the 1974 rape of a young boy.


    The nine-year-old victim was kidnapped from his home, dragged to a baseball field and raped by a man he described as having bushy sideburns and a mustache. A relative of the victim’s thought that the description sounded like James Bain. Bain’s photo was included in a lineup and the victim misidentified him. Based largely on the strength of this identification, Bain was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.


    Still a teenager when he was wrongfully convicted, Bain was 54 years old by the time he was exonerated. He began seeking DNA testing in 2001 but was denied multiple times until the Innocence Project of Florida came to his aid.

    19. James Bain, Florida Man is Freed After 35 Years
    James Bain was released from prison this morning in Florida after serving 35 years in prison for a crime DNA now proves he didn’t commit. He is a free man today for the first time since 1974 and becomes the 248th person exonerated through DNA evidence in the United States.


    Bain was convicted of kidnapping and raping a nine-year-old boy in Lake Wales, Florida, in 1974. The victim described the perpetrator and the victim’s uncle said the description sounded like James Bain. The victim then viewed a photo lineup and identified Bain as the perpetrator. He would later say in a deposition that he had been asked to “pick out Jimmie Bain.”


    Bain was 19 years old when he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He sought DNA testing several times on appeal, but was denied in 2001, 2003 and 2006. The Innocence Project of Florida took on his case and obtained DNA testing on evidence from the crime scene. The results, received last week, confirmed that Bain was not the perpetrator of the crime.


    He was freed this morning and will go live with family members.  "I guess I kind of feel like when they first landed on the moon,” he told reporters after his release. “We have touchdown," he said, laughing.


    20. Steven Barnes

    Incident Date: 9/18/85
    Jurisdiction: NY
    Charge: 1st Degree Rape, 1st Degree Sodomy, 2nd Degree Murder (4 counts)
    Conviction: 1st Degree Rape, 1st Degree Sodomy, 2nd Degree Murder (3 counts)
    Sentence: 25-Life
    Year of Conviction: 1989
    Exoneration Date: 1/9/09
    Sentence Served: 19.5 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Informants, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes

    In 1989, Steven Barnes was convicted in upstate New York of a murder he didn’t commit based on questionable eyewitness identifications and three types of unvalidated forensic science. Nearly two decades later, DNA testing obtained by the Innocence Project proved his innocence and he walked out of the Utica courthouse a free man on November 25, 2008.

    The Crime
    On the evening of Sept. 18, 1985, 16-year-old Kimberly Simon left her Marcy, New York, home walking to meet a high school friend. The next day, police officers found her body near the side of a dirt road. She had been raped and strangled to death.


    The Investigation
    Several people in Utica told police that they had seen Simon walking along a busy street between 5:30 and 6 p.m. Others said they saw Steven Barnes’ distinctive truck on that road around the same time. He became a suspect based on these vague statements from eyewitnesses.

    One man, in police custody for an unrelated incident, testified that he was riding in a police vehicle when he saw the victim walking on the road and saw a truck similar to Barnes’ truck nearby. A Utica police officer said he saw a young man matching Barnes’ description parked alongside the street that night. Steven’s brother-in-law testified that he saw a young woman getting into a truck along the road that was clearly not Barnes’ truck. Others said they saw Barnes at a local bowling alley through the evening of the murder.

    Barnes was questioned 12 straight hours on September 21, three days after the victim was last seen. He said that he had driven to a bowling alley at 6 p.m. on the night of the crime and didn’t know anything about the murder. He was given a polygraph test – which investigators said was inconclusive – and police checked his truck for fingerprints and trace evidence. He was released without charges at that time. More than two years later, however, investigators were still working on the case and asked Barnes to submit blood, saliva and hair samples. He was arrested in March of 1988, more than two years after the crime, and charged with rape, sodomy and murder.

    The Trial and Forensic Evidence
    Barnes was tried by a jury in Utica beginning on May 15, 1989. A forensic analyst testified at his trial that no fingerprints collected from Barnes’ truck matched the victim’s. Although tire print comparison has never been a validated forensic practice, the tracks from the crime scene were compared with Barnes’ truck tires and investigators determined that they did not match.

    Serological evidence was introduced at trial and also did not point to Barnes. Dr. Elaine Pagliaro, the supervising criminalist at the Connecticut State Police Forensic Laboratory, testified that seminal fluid was detected on the victim’s underwear and on swabs taken from her body and that serology testing was conducted. The results matched the victim’s blood type, and were inconclusive regarding Barnes, who is a non-secretor (his blood type is not revealed from bodily fluids such as semen and saliva). DNA testing conducted before trial was inconclusive.

    Three forms of unvalidated forensic science were used against Barnes at trial, however. Pagliaro testified that she conducted a photographic overlay of fabric from the victim’s jeans and an imprint on Barnes’ truck and determined that the two patterns were similar. The state then entered testimony from a self-employed manufacturers’ representative who told the court that the stitching on the brand of jeans the victim wore was unique and that as many as 200 pairs may have been sold in Oneida County, New York, in 1985.

    Pagliaro also testified that two hairs collected from Barnes’ truck were microscopically “similar” to the victim’s hairs and dissimilar from Barnes’ hair. She added that no hairs similar to Barnes’ samples were found on the victim’s body. Pagliaro’s lab also compared soil samples taken from Steven’s truck with dirt samples taken from the crime scene a year after the murder and testified that they had “similar characteristics.”  

    Microscopic hair analysis, soil comparison and fabric print analysis have not been validated scientifically. Because there is not adequate empirical data on the frequency of various class characteristics in human hair, soil samples or imprints, the analyst’s assertion that these items of evidence were consistent or similar is inherently prejudicial and lacks probative value.

    The state also introduced the testimony of a jailhouse informant, who said Barnes confessed to him while in jail awaiting trial more than two years after the crime. The informant, Robert Stolo, was in custody on forgery and larceny charges. He met Barnes at the jail and they were on the same cell block for about a week. Stolo told the court that he talked with Barnes along with another inmate, who had asked Barnes about some girls and Barnes purportedly asked in return, “You mean the one that I killed?” then corrected himself by saying, “I mean the one that I am accused of killing?” 

    Stolo, however, was housed for that week several cells away from Barnes and couldn’t remember when or where this conversation happened. Stolo testified that he didn’t expect a lighter sentence for his testimony, and that he received a one-year sentence for his conviction.

    Barnes’ attorney called several witnesses who testified that he was at a local bowling alley at the time the crime was allegedly committed. He was convicted of rape and murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.


    Post-Conviction Appeals and Exoneration
    The Innocence Project began representing Barnes in 1993 and secured DNA testing on his behalf in 1996. The Oneida County District Attorney consented to conducting DNA tests on evidence from the crime scene, but those tests were inconclusive because the DNA technology at the time did not yield a profile. A decade later, in 2007, the Innocence Project reopened the case, and Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara agreed to conduct DNA testing. This round was conducted using Y-STR testing, an advanced technology that had not been previously available.
    The new tests yielded conclusive results on sperm cells from the victim’s body and clothing – none of which matched Barnes. After serving almost two decades in prison for a murder and rape he didn’t commit, Barnes was freed on November 25, 2008. His exoneration became official on January 9, 2009, when prosecutors announced that they were dropping all charges. Shortly after his exoneration he celebrated his 43rd birthday – the first one at home in two decades.

    21. Jonathan Barr
    Incident Date: 11/19/91
    Jurisdiction: IL
    Charge: Rape, murder
    Conviction: Rape, murder
    Sentence: 85 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1997
    Exoneration Date: 11/3/11
    Sentence Served: 15 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Yes
    Contributing Causes: False Confessions / Admissions
    Compensation? Not Yet


    Jonathan Barr was exonerated on November 3, 2011, after serving nearly 15 years in prison for a rape and murder DNA testing proves he didn’t commit. He was convicted as a teenager with four other men based almost exclusively on false confession evidence.

    22. Gene Bibbins

    Incident Year: 1987
    Jurisdiction: LA
    Charge: Rape, Burglary
    Conviction: Agg. Rape, Agg. Burglary
    Sentence: Life
    Year of Conviction: 1987
    Exoneration Date: 3/1/03
    Sentence Served: 15.5 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Yes
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes

    In March 2003, Gene Bibbins became the 125th person in the United States to be exonerated by postconviction DNA testing. Bibbins had spent more than 15 years in prison for a 1986 rape that he did not commit.

    In June 1986, a young teenager was raped in her aunt's Baton Rouge apartment. She had been asleep when the assailant entered the room, climbed on top of her, and threatened her with a knife before raping her. The perpetrator stole a radio from the room before escaping out of a window. The victim reported the crime to her aunt, who contacted the police.


    Bibbins, who lived in a different building in the same apartment complex, was arrested less than an hour later. He had found the radio between buildings and was stopped by police a few blocks from the complex. Bibbins was driven to the apartment building where the crime occurred. He remained in the car with a flashlight illuminating his face while the victim made her identification. The victim was then treated and a rape kit was collected.


    At trial, the prosecution relied heavily on the victim's identification. She had rejected the neighbor who police had originally brought to her for identification. Spermatozoa was found on the vaginal samples from the rape kit. The victim was a virgin at the time, meaning that the semen evidence had been deposited by the rapist. The semen  on the vaginal swab, bed sheets, and the victim's underwear revealed the presence of Type B antigens. 


    Bibbins could not be excluded as the contributor. In addition, an analyst testified that lab analysis of fingerprints from the crime scene were inconclusive, and that the analyst had checked those findings with the state crime lab, which had reached the same conclusion. In fact, Bibbins was excluded as the source of the fingerprints, which was in a state crime lab report.

    Bibbins claimed that he was misidentified, that he found the radio as he was exiting his building. The victim's initial description of the attacker was a man with long and curly hair, wearing jeans. Bibbins was wearing grey shorts and had short, cropped hair at the time.


    He was convicted of aggravated rape and aggravated burglary in March 1987 and sentenced to life in prison. In 1998, Bibbins started writing the Innocence Project. His case was eventually accepted and the biological evidence was located at the District Court of East Baton Rouge. Bibbins was the first inmate to win access to biological evidence under Louisiana's postconviction DNA testing statute.


    In November 2002, the biological evidence was subjected to DNA testing. Bibbins was excluded as the contributor of spermatozoa. The prosecution decided to send the evidence to a laboratory of their choice. In December 2002, the second round of testing confirmed that Bibbins could not have been the perpetrator.


    It was not until March 2003 that Bibbins was officially exonerated. He had been asserting his innocence for more than 15 years.

    23. Phillip Bivens

    Incident Date: 5/4/79
    Jurisdiction: MS
    Charge: Murder, rape
    Conviction: Murder, rape
    Sentence: Life
    Year of Conviction: 1980
    Exoneration Date: 12/14/10
    Sentence Served: 30 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Yes
    Contributing Causes:







    Phillip Bivens served three decades in Mississippi prisons for a murder and rape he didn’t commit before DNA tests obtained by Innocence Project New Orleans led to his exoneration in 2010.


    Bivens was wrongfully convicted of raping and killing a woman in her Forrest County, Mississippi, home on May 4, 1979. The only witness was the victim’s 4-year-old son, who consistently described one man raping and killing his mother. One suspect,
    Larry Ruffin, was arrested first. Bivens and another man, Bobby Ray Dixon, were arrested in the case eighteen months later.


    The three men gave confessions to police, under the threat of the death penalty. Their confessions were inconsistent with each other and in places, factually inaccurate. Dixon and Bivens pled guilty and testified at Ruffin’s trial in exchange for life sentences. Dixon recanted his earlier testimony and confession implicating Ruffin while on the stand at Ruffin’s trial. Ruffin was convicted by a jury and sentenced to life in prison after a hung jury prevented a death sentence.



    Innocence Project New Orleans
    (IPNO) and co-counsel Rob McDuff — lawyers for Dixon, Bivens and the Ruffin family — obtained DNA testing with the consent of the Forrest County district attorney in June 2010. Testing was performed on semen left on the victim’s body by the perpetrator. The DNA profile was run through the FBI’s DNA database. The profile from the crime scene excluded all three of the men convicted, and implicated another man who was convicted of raping another woman in her home in the same county two years later.


    Based on the results, IPNO and McDuff filed motions calling for the three men’s convictions to be dismissed and for their immediate exoneration. Dixon, who has suffered from seizures his entire life, was diagnosed with lung cancer that spread to his brain. He was released on medical parole in August 2010.


    Dixon, who has suffered from seizures his entire life, was diagnosed with lung cancer that spread to his brain. He was released on medical parole in August 2010. In September, Forrest County Circuit Judge Bob Helfrich threw out the convictions of Dixon and Bivens and ordered evidence be presented to a grand jury on the alleged real perpetrator. Sadly, Ruffin died in prison in 2002, and his conviction could not be overturned through regular post-conviction procedures. However, on December 14, 2010, he, along with Bivens and Dixon, were officially exonerated when a Forrest County Grand Jury that heard all of the evidence declined to indict the three men.


    Dixon passed away on November 7, 2010 while awaiting his complete exoneration.

    24. Michael Blair

    Incident Date: 9/4/93
    Jurisdiction: TX
    Charge: Capital murder
    Conviction: Capital murder
    Sentence: Death
    Year of Conviction: 1994
    Exoneration Date: 8/25/08
    Sentence Served: 13.5 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science

    After serving 14 years on Texas’ death row for a murder he didn’t commit, Michael Blair was exonerated in 2008 when a series of DNA tests proved his innocence. Blair is the 17th person in the U.S. exonerated by DNA testing after receiving a death sentence.


    The Crime
    On September 4, 1993, seven-year-old Ashley Estell was with her family at Carpenter Park in Plano, Texas, watching her older brother play a soccer game. She disappeared from the park that day and was strangled to death. Her body was found the next day by a roadside.


    The Investigation
    Michael Blair quickly became a suspect in this case. He had previously been convicted of a sexual offense, and three eyewitnesses told police they saw him in the park that day. These eyewitnesses, however, did not identify Blair in a photo lineup as the man they saw in the park until after his picture had appeared in the media; at least two witnesses testified that they saw Blair’s photo on TV before identifying him to police. No eyewitnesses ever said they saw Blair and Estell together. On the morning of the crime, a police officer found Blair asleep in his car in Dallas, 17 miles from the park where the victim disappeared. He briefly questioned Blair about why he was sleeping in his car, but did not connect him at the time to Estell’s murder.


    Three days later, on September 7, two Plano city employees noticed a car near the site where the victim’s body had been found. They noted the license plate number, which police matched to Blair. On September 10, two Plano Police Department evidence technicians were working at the scene where the victim’s body was found, and they noticed a car in the area. They followed the car as it drove away and eventually conducted a traffic stop. Blair was the driver. He had a flyer from the search for the victim in his car, and told officers that he – along with dozens of other members of the community – had volunteered to assist in the search for the victim and wanted to see the location where the body was found. Police asked Blair to accompany them to the station.


    Blair was interrogated for ten hours that day, and he repeatedly denied involvement in the crime. While interrogating Blair, police officers searched his car, with his consent. They found and collected a stuffed animal, a knife, a blanket and several hairs. At the end of the interrogation, Blair left the police station. During the investigation, police also collected hairs and fibers from the body of the victim, and a clump of hairs from Jack Carter Park, which is 2.6 miles from Carpenter Park, where the victim was last seen.
    Although there was no evidence that either Blair or the victim had been in this other park on the day of the crime, this clump of hair became a key piece of evidence at trial. Blair was arrested on September 14, and charged with capital murder.


    The Biological Evidence and The Trial
    Blair was tried by a jury in 1994. The prosecution’s main evidence against him consisted of the eyewitnesses who allegedly saw Blair in the park on the day the victim disappeared and near the area where the victim’s body was found in the days after it was found. Microscopic hair and fiber comparisons were also central to the prosecution’s case.


    The eyewitnesses who identified Blair during the investigation also testified at his trial. The jury also heard from experts regarding hair and fiber comparisons that had been conducted on evidence from Blair’s body and his car and from the victim’s body.  


    An analyst from the Southwest Institute of Forensic Sciences (SWIFS), testified that a “clump” of hair found in Jack Carter Park (a location that had no connection to Blair, the victim or the crime) contained hairs microscopically similar to those of both the victim and Blair. (The analyst also said the clump contained hair from other unknown individuals.) Because there is not adequate empirical data on the frequency of various class characteristics in human hair, an analyst’s assertion that hairs are consistent or similar is inherently prejudicial and lacks probative value.


    The SWIFS expert said hairs found in Blair’s car had a “strong association” with hairs from the victim, but that he couldn’t make a positive identification. An FBI expert testified that the chemical makeup of fibers from a stuffed animal in Blair’s car “most resembled” fibers found on the victim’s body, with only “subtle differences.”


    Based on the eyewitness identifications and forensic testimony, the jury deliberated for 27 minutes before convicting Blair. He was sentenced to death for the murder.


    Post-Conviction
    On appeal, Blair and his legal team – which included the Innocence Project – sought DNA testing on the hair evidence used in Blair’s conviction and on fingernail scrapings from the victim’s body. Testing finally began in 2002, eight years after Blair was sent to death row, and continued through 2008. All of the tests excluded Blair as a potential contributor of biological evidence at the crime scene and all of the hair analysis used to convict Blair was contradicted by DNA testing.


    The DNA profiles of two males were found on skin cells under the victim’s fingernails, and neither profile matched Blair. Additionally, DNA testing conducted by the state on clothing from the victim pointed to the possible involvement of a man, now deceased, who was a suspect at the time of crime. Due to DNA evidence pointing to Blair’s innocence, Collin County prosecutors asked a judge in May 2008 to throw out his conviction, and all charges were dropped in August.


    Blair was removed from death row but not released from prison. While on death row, Blair confessed to other crimes he said he committed as a young man and apologized to the victims. He pled guilty to these crimes and received a life sentence.


    Ashley’s Laws
    A troubling irony of Blair’s exoneration is the law his wrongful conviction left as a legacy. Less than a year after Blair was sentenced to death, then-Governor George W. Bush signed “Ashley’s Laws,” named after the victim in the case, expanding punishment and registration for sex offenders. Blair’s record as a sex offender led police to focus on him as a suspect and contributed to his conviction. It then led state lawmakers to expand the punishment for sex offenders, in an effort to prevent murders like Estell’s. Based partly on Blair’s record, the community rushed to judgment and nearly executed a man for a crime he didn’t commit, while the apparent real perpetrator, who had no record, evaded justice.

    25. Kirk Bloodsworth

    Incident Year: 1984
    Jurisdiction: MD
    Charge: Murder, Sexual Assault, Rape
    Conviction: First Degree Murder, Sexual Assault, Rape
    Sentence: Death
    Year of Conviction: 1985
    Exoneration Date: 6/28/93
    Sentence Served: 8 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Yes
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Government Misconduct
    Compensation? Yes

    Kirk Bloodsworth was convicted in March of 1985 for the brutal killing and sexual assault of a nine year old girl. The victim was found dead in July of 1984. She had been strangled, raped, and beaten with a rock. Bloodsworth was arrested based on an anonymous call telling police that he was seen with the victim that day and an identification made by a witness from a police sketch that was based on the recollections of five eyewitnesses. 

    At trial, all five witnesses testified that they had seen Bloodsworth with the victim. Also presented at trial was testimony that Bloodsworth had said that he had done something terrible that day that would affect his relationship with his wife. Additionally, he mentioned a bloody rock during the investigation. A shoe impression was found near the victim but a forensic analyst testified that he did not find any identifying features in the print.


    This evidence was challenged in Bloodsworth’s appeals, which asserted that the bloody rock was mentioned because the police showed him a rock during the interrogation. The incident he mentioned regarding his wife amounted to his failure to buy the food she had requested. Moreover, the police failed to inform the defense that there may have been another suspect. Bloodsworth’s conviction was overturned by the appellate court and he was retried. This time, he was convicted and sentenced to two life terms, to run consecutively.


    In 1992, the prosecution agreed to DNA testing to be performed by Forensic Science Associates. The victim’s shorts and underwear, a stick found at the scene, and an autopsy slide were compared against the blood standards of the victim and Bloodsworth. Using PCR based DNA testing, FSA determined that the amount of spermatozoa on the slide was insufficient for testing. Testing on the panties excluded Bloodsworth. Replicate testing performed by the FBI yielded the same results.


    Bloodsworth was released from prison in June 1993 and pardoned in December 1993. He had spent over eight years in prison, two of those years facing execution.


    Bloodsworth also became the first person to be exonerated from death row through postconviction DNA testing. The recent introduction of the Innocence Protection Act of 2003 establishes the Kirk Bloodsworth Postconviction DNA Testing Program, which will provide funding for testing under the act.
    Learn more here about the IPA and read Bloodsworth’s remarks on the bill.

    26. Larry Bostic

    Incident Date: 10/12/88
    Jurisdiction: FL
    Charge: Sexual Battery, Robbery
    Conviction: Sexual Battery, Robbery
    Sentence: 8 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1989
    Exoneration Date: 9/21/07
    Sentence Served: 3-18 Years*
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, False Confessions / Admissions
    Compensation? Not Yet

    Larry Bostic was exonerated 18 years after pleading guilty to a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, rape that DNA now proves he didn’t commit. He pled guilty to the crime to avoid a possible life sentence if convicted at trial, and finally brought about his own exoneration by filing a handwritten motion for DNA testing from prison. 

    The Crime
    At 4 a.m. on October 12, 1988, an African-American man with a knife attacked a 30-year-old woman as she returned home after using a payphone in Fort Lauderdale. The man led the woman to a secluded area behind a bar, where he forced her to remove her clothing and then raped her. He also stole $75 from a purse she was carrying, and then left the area.


    The Identification and Guilty Plea
    Police showed the victim a lineup of photographs of several men and she identified Bostic as the perpetrator. According to Bostic’s appellate attorney, the victim told an investigator in 2007 that she had never seen the perpetrator during the 1988 crime, but identified Bostic because she believed she had seen him in the neighborhood days before the crime.


    Bostic was arrested and charged with sexual battery and robbery. In 1989, he pled guilty to these crimes and was sentenced to eight years in prison followed by five years probation. He has since stated in appeals that he was “coerced” to plead guilty by both the prosecutor and his court-appointed attorney because he would face a possible life sentence in a jury trial.


    Post-Conviction
    Bostic was released on probation after three years in prison, but was arrested nine months later for an unrelated battery. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison for violating the probation from his 1989 conviction, and also pled guilty to the new batte
    ry charge. His sentence for the battery was 12 years, to run concurrent with the sentence for violating his probation.
    In 2005, Bostic filed a handwritten motion from prison, requesting DNA testing on the victim’s underwear and a rape kit collected after the 1988 crime.

    In June 2007, prosecutors agreed to conduct testing and sent the evidence to the Broward County Crime Lab for analysis. They received the results in August 2007: there were sperm cells on the vaginal swab in the rape kit, and the DNA profile of these cells did not match Bostic. Investigators interviewed the victim to confirm that she did not have other sexual partners in the days before the assault. She said she hadn’t, and prosecutors joined with Bostic’s appellate attorney in asking a Florida judge to dismiss the charges and vacate the convictions relating to the 1988 rape. By the time Bostic was released in September 2007, he was 51 years old and had served more than 17 years in prison.

    * Larry Bostic served three years for a rape he did not commit. He later pled guilty to an unrelated assault and received a 17 year sentence, based on his record, which included the wrongful conviction. He spent 18 years in prison in all, and his wrongful conviction was a factor in both sentences.

    27. Donte Booker
    Incident Date: 11/11/86
    Jurisdiction: OH
    Charge: Rape, Kidnapping, Robbery, Gross Sexual Imposition
    Conviction: Rape, Kidnapping, Aggravated Robbery, Gross Sexual Imposition
    Sentence: 10-25 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1987
    Exoneration Date: 2/9/05
    Sentence Served: 15 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Yes
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification
    Compensation? Yes


    When Donte Booker was granted parole in 2002, he started his life over with all the difficulties facing convicted felons and sex offenders. Determined to overturn his convictions of rape, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, and gross sexual imposition, Booker continued to seek postconviction DNA testing after his release. His convictions were overturned on February 9, 2005, after DNA testing of evidence in the victim’s rape kit and of her clothing proved that he was innocent of the crimes.


    The Crime
    On November 11, 1986, the victim, a white female, was leaving her office building in Beachwood, Ohio, when an African American male asked her about the location of a public phone. She spoke with him, under direct light, for approximately three minutes. She then went to her car and began warming it up. She was then attacked by the same man, who threatened her with a knife. 


    Although the perpetrator told her to keep her face toward the side window, she said she saw him several times after he entered the vehicle. He took eight dollars from her and drove to the loading docks behind the building. There, he forcibly raped her and told her to get out of the car. She then ran to a nearby building and called the police.


    The victim’s car was recovered later that evening. A toy gun was missing from the car. The victim helped police create a composite sketch and looked through numerous photo arrays but could not make an identification.


    The Identification
    Donte Booker was arrested in February 1987 in an unrelated incident involving a toy gun. A police officer recalled that a toy gun was stolen in the rape case and put Booker’s photograph into another photographic array for the victim to view. She picked Booker’s photograph from the array and identified the toy gun as the one that was stolen from her car. Additionally, the police searched Booker’s home and found a gray sweatshirt and sweatpants that generally matched the victim’s initial description of the perpetrator's clothing.


    The Biological Evidence
    The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation detected semen on the victim’s slip but there was not enough present to perform ABO blood typing. The laboratory also found a pubic hair from the victim’s pubic combing that they determined to be of Negroid origin.


    Post-Conviction
    Booker contacted the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation in 2000 and found that they had retained evidence from his case, including the rape kit. Booker, however, was unable to obtain testing on his own. He was paroled in 2002 after refusing chances at an earlier parole because he would not admit to a crime he did not commit. In February 2002, Booker contacted W. Scott Ramsey, who filed a motion to have the evidence in this case subjected to postconviction DNA testing. The court granted the motion.


    On January 25, 2005, test results excluded Booker as the contributor of the spermatozoa found on the victim’s clothing and in the rape kit. On February 9, 2005, Booker’s convictions were overturned.
    28. Marcellius Bradford
    Incident Year: 1986
    Jurisdiction: IL
    Charge: Murder, Rape, Armed Robbery, Kidnapping
    Conviction: Aggravated Kidnapping
    Sentence: 12 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1988
    Exoneration Date: 12/5/01
    Sentence Served: 6.5 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Yes
    Contributing Causes: False Confessions / Admissions, Informants
    Compensation? Yes


    Larry and Calvin Ollins, Omar Saunders, and Marcellius Bradford were convicted of the October 1986 kidnapping, rape, and murder of twenty-three year-old medical student Lori Roscetti in Chicago, Illinois. The four teenagers allegedly jumped into her car as she drove home late one night, took her to a secluded location, and proceeded to rape her, rob her, and beat her to death. In 1988, the two Ollins cousins and Saunders were each convicted of the crime and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Bradford pleaded guilty to aggravated kidnapping and was sentenced to twelve years in prison in exchange for testimony at Larry Ollins’s trial. Murder, rape, and armed robbery charges against him were dropped. None of the teens were old enough to be eligible for the death penalty.


    At trial, Bradford testified that the four teens abducted Roscetti and drove her to a remote location, where he and Saunders got out of the car to act as the lookouts while the two cousins assaulted her. When she tried to escape, according to Bradford, Larry Ollins crushed her head with a chunk of concrete, carried her back to the car, and he and Calvin raped her. A friend of Bradford’s provided additional testimony, recounting a confession by Saunders with substantially similar facts. Bradford later recanted his statements, saying police coerced him into falsely confessing and that he did so to avoid a life sentence.


    Crime lab analyst Pamela Fish testified that semen found on the victim’s body could have belonged to the Ollinses, but a recent examination of her notes by a DNA expert showed that none of the four men’s blood types matched the crime scene samples. Fish, whose testimony helped convict several innocent individuals in the Chicago area, has since been transferred to an administrative post.


    In December 2001, the convictions against all four men were vacated and charges dropped, after DNA tests on spermatozoa and hairs found on Roscetti’s body and in her car proved that none of the men were the assailants. Calvin and Larry Ollins, age twenty-nine and thirty-one respectively, and Omar Saunders, age thirty-two, were released from prison after spending more than fourteen years - nearly half their lives - incarcerated. Bradford was released after serving six and a half years of his sentence.


    To hear more about this case in the words of the defendants, listen to the
    This American Life episode “Perfect Evidence”

    29. Ted Bradford

    Photo: Innocence Project Northwest
    Incident Date: 9/29/95
    Jurisdiction: WA
    Charge: First-degree rape and First-degree burglary
    Conviction: First-degree rape and First-degree burglary
    Sentence:
    Year of Conviction: 1996
    Exoneration Date: 2/11/10
    Sentence Served: 10 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, False Confessions / Admissions
    Compensation? Not Yet

    Ted Louis Bradford spent almost 10 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit – and another four years awaiting a new trial – before he was retried and acquitted based on DNA evidence of his innocence in 2010. 


    The Crime
    On the morning of September 29, 1995, in Yakima, Washington, a young woman was in her living room feeding her one-month-old infant son when she heard an unfamiliar noise in the hallway. The woman saw a man approaching her wearing a white nylon-stocking mask. She tried to flee with her baby, but the man grabbed her from behind and tackled her. The man demanded that she not look at him but allowed her to put her baby back in his crib before he forced the woman into her basement.


    In the basement, the man handcuffed the woman and put a Lone Ranger-style mask over her face before pushing her to the floor and raping her. Adhesive tape had been placed over the eyeholes in advance, apparently to prevent the victim from identifying the perpetrator. He later dragged the woman up the stairs and took her into the infant’s bedroom, where he tied her to the crib using a coat hanger and the loops in her belt. The man then left the woman, with her mask still on, in the infant’s room.


    The woman told police that the man as wearing black jeans with a dull red and blue checkered flannel jacket and white gloves. Despite the stocking covering his face, the woman described the man as Caucasian or a light-skinned Hispanic, stocky, with  dark hair or dark blond hair. She also described the man as about six feet tall or “half a head” taller than her husband. He was “was a giant to me,” she reportedly told police.


    Bradford was arrested six months later in April 1996 in connection with a series of indecent exposure incidents in the victim’s neighborhood. Investigators believed Bradford may have been connected to the rape and interrogated him for eight hours and subjected him to a polygraph test. After five hours, Bradford admitted that he “probably” committed the rape. Bradford’s confession, however, contained numerous inconsistent details concerning the crime. An attorney sent by Bradford’s wife was denied access to Bradford because police said Bradford could only speak with him if he requested an attorney.


    The victim in the case never identified Bradford as her attacker. Two neighbors said they had seen a white Toyota Tercel similar to Bradford’s near the scene of the crime; one said she had seen Bradford driving the car around the neighborhood that day. Based on his admission and the neighbor’s identification, Bradford was charged with the crime.


    The Trial

    Bradford said he was at work when the rape occurred, but a clerical error at his job incorrectly showed that Bradford was off that day. When police confronted Bradford about this discrepancy, he changed his story saying he was not at work that day. He later said that he changed his story because he was confused by the clerical error. At trial, Bradford’s wife testified that she had picked him up from work for a scheduled vasectomy, and a co-worker also testified that he had teased Bradford about the operation. Bradford’s timecard indicated he was at work and he was paid for that day.


    Despite no physical evidence linking him to the crime and the fact that he was only 5’7 – significantly shorter than the victim’s description – Bradford was convicted of rape and burglary and sentenced to 10 years in prison based on the strength of his confession and the neighbor’s testimony. The court of appeals upheld his conviction, ruling that Bradford’s confession had not been coerced and that the detectives’ refusal to allow Bradford’s attorney to speak with his client during the interrogation did not violate his constitutional rights.


    Post-Conviction
    Bradford served nine years in prison before being released on community supervison. Although the
    Innocence Project Northwest Clinic, based at the University of Washington School of Law, began working on Bradford’s case in 2002, it took years to complete the several rounds of DNA testing Bradford was still required to register as a sex offender as part of his community supervision.


    Bradford served nine years in prison before being released on parole. After his release, the , based at the University of Washington, took Bradford’s case and sought DNA testing. Bradford was still required to register as a sex offender as part of his parole.


    After the IPNW successfully obtained DNA testing on Bradford’s behalf, analysts from the Washington state crime lab tested samples from the adhesive tape used on the mask. The tests returned two profiles. One was consistent with the victim and the other was an unknown man,  not Bradford. The DNA of the same unknown man was on both the adhesive side of the tape and the non-adhesive side. 


    Moreover, another distinct male profile was found on the backside of the victim’s jeans. In light of this new evidence, the Washington State Court of Appeals formally reversed Bradford’s conviction in 2007. In its decision, the court wrote: “Since male DNA was present, and it was not  Mr. Bradford’s, the inference is that the unidentified male devised the mask. And, the victim’s testimony that the assailant kept pushing the mask back over her eyes  supports an inference that Mr. Bradford was not the perpetrator; otherwise, his DNA would have been present.”


    Yakima country prosecutors, still convinced that Bradford was the perpetrator, decided to retry him. The second trial ended in February 2010, with a jury acquitting Bradford, now 36, of first-degree rape and burglary after just five hours of deliberation. It took nearly 15 years before justice was served, but Bradford finally cleared his name.

    30. Mark Diaz Bravo
    Incident Date: 2/20/90
    Jurisdiction: CA
    Charge: Rape
    Conviction: Rape
    Sentence: 8 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1990
    Exoneration Date: 1/6/94
    Sentence Served: 3 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes


    On February 20, 1990, Mark Bravo was working as a nurse at the Metropolitan State Hospital in Los Angeles. A long-time patient at the hospital approached a guard and said she had been raped that afternoon. She named several people as her attacker, including Bravo, when she was interviewed by hospital authorities. He was arrested the next morning and charged with rape. Bravo maintained a strong alibi. He said that he left the hospital at 11:00AM and had not returned until after 12:30 PM. He had been in meetings from 1:00PM until after 3:00PM. He claimed that he went home that night not knowing that anyone had been raped that day.


    Controversy over DNA testing developed before the trial began, as the defense attorney claimed that he requested testing be done by the district attorney's office on items found at the crime scene. The prosecution said that a desire for testing was never mentioned before the trial. Bravo was eventually convicted and sentenced to a prison term of eight years.


    The prosecution presented a blanket found at the crime scene with male biological deposits. The blood type found on the blanket is found in only 3% of the population, from which Bravo could not be eliminated. The analyst, however, falsely testified that only 1.5% of men had that blood type, leading jurors to believe that the probability statistic was twice as strong as it actually was. This evidence was bolstered by the victim's identification and evidence that Bravo had previously misrepresented himself.


    Appeals all the way to the California Supreme Court were denied. Bravo's conviction was upheld and the state Supreme Court denied the motion to admit new evidence. Postconviction motions eventually won Bravo DNA testing and the case returned to the Los Angeles Superior Court in October 1993.


    DNA testing was performed on a sheet, blanket, and a pair of panties that were collected from the crime scene. The results came back on December 24, 1993, showing that none of the stains matched the DNA profile of either Bravo or the victim. Bravo was therefore eliminated as the perpetrator.


    The Superior Court Judge issued an order on January 6, 1994, that Bravo be released immediately.

    31. Kennedy Brewer

    Incident Date: 5/3/92
    Jurisdiction: MS
    Charge: Capital Murder, Sexual Battery
    Conviction: Capital Murder, Sexual Battery
    Sentence: Death
    Year of Conviction: 1995
    Exoneration Date: 2/15/08
    Sentence Served: 7 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Yes
    Contributing Causes: Government Misconduct, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes

    In 1992, Kennedy Brewer was arrested in Mississippi and accused of killing his girlfriend’s three-year-old daughter. After waiting in jail for three years for a trial to begin, Brewer was convicted of capital murder and sent to Mississippi’s death row.


    In 2001, DNA tests proved he did not commit the crime, leading his conviction to be overturned. The prosecutors said they intended to retry Brewer, so he remained in jail for over five more years until his release on bail in August 2007. On February 15, 2008, after an Innocence Project investigation led to an alternate suspect in the case, Brewer became the first person to be exonerated through post-conviction DNA testing in Mississippi. He had served seven years on death row and eight years in jail awaiting trial.


    The Crime and Investigation
    In the early morning hours of May 3, 1992, Christine Jackson, the three-year-old daughter of Brewer’s girlfriend, Gloria Jackson, was abducted from her home, raped and murdered. Brewer had spent that evening babysitting Christine and her two younger siblings, who were Brewer’s biological children with Gloria. 


    Two days after Christine disappeared, her body was found in a creek in Noxubee County about 500 yards from her home. Police suspected Brewer because he had been at home that night and there was no sign of forced entry; however, a broken window near where the child slept could have provided the point of entry for an intruder.


    The Trial
    The trial began in March 1995, nearly three years after Brewer was arrested. The prosecution theorized that Brewer had raped and murdered Christine in the Jackson home and then carried her body to the creek. A semen sample was recovered from the victim’s body but was deemed insufficient for DNA testing.


    The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy, Steven Hayne, testified that he had found several marks on the child’s body that he believed to be bite marks. Hayne called in Dr. Michael West, a forensic odonotologist, to analyze the marks. West concluded that 19 marks found on the victim’s body were “indeed and without a doubt” inflicted by Brewer. 


    He further asserted that all 19 marks were made only by Brewer’s top two teeth and that somehow the bottom teeth had made no impression. West claimed a degree of certainty that exceeded the limitations of bite mark analysis, which has never been scientifically validated. He was already discredited by the time of Brewer’s trial, as the first member ever to be suspended from the American Board of Forensic Odontology. Regardless, the court allowed his testimony.


    In response, the defense introduced Dr. Richard Souviron, a licensed dentist and founding member of the American Board of Forensic Odonotology, who testified that the marks were not human bite marks at all but were insect bites that the body sustained from being left in the water for days. Souviron argued that it would be all but impossible to leave repeated bite mark impressions with only the top two teeth.


    Brewer was convicted of capital murder and sexual battery on March 24, 1995, and sentenced to death. He had maintained his innocence in the crime, and his conviction was based almost entirely on the questionable bite mark evidence. Other physical evidence included various small blood spots on Brewer’s clothing, a stain consistent with feces on a dress near where the victim slept, and a blood stain on a blanket found next to where the child was sleeping. However, the state’s forensic scientist was unable to identify the ABO blood group through serological testing in order to determine the source.


    Post-conviction appeals
    In 2001, advanced DNA testing was conducted on semen recovered in 1992 from the victim’s body. The tests produced results excluding Brewer as a possible perpetrator and revealed an unknown male profile. The prosecution conducted further testing on two of Brewer’s friends, who were also excluded. Y-STR testing also excluded many of Brewer’s relatives. No subsequent effort was made to identify the real perpetrator.


    The following year, Brewer’s conviction was vacated, and he was moved from death row to pre-trial detention. The prosecution intended to retry Brewer for capital murder, but for a full five years the case was not moved to trial. Due to conflicts of interest in the Noxubee County District Attorney’s office in 2007, Ben Creekmore, the District Attorney of Oxford, Mississippi, was appointed Special Prosecutor in the Brewer case. Creekmore decided not to seek the death penalty and agreed not to oppose bail. Brewer was released in August 2007 while a new trial was pending.


    During preparations for Brewer’s retrial, the Innocence Project asked the Mississippi Attorney General’s office to intervene in the investigation of the case. DNA testing during this investigation led to the implication of another man as the real perpetrator. The unidentified DNA profile discovered in 2001 matched to Justin Albert Johnson, one of the original suspects. Johnson then confessed to Christine Jackson’s murder as well as to an identical crime—the murder of Courtney Smith committed in September 1990 also in Noxubee County. Johnson assured the investigators that he acted alone in both crimes.


    Eighteen months before Brewer was arrested in the other crime, three-year-old Smith was raped and murdered and left in a pond near her home. The ex-boyfriend of the child’s mother, Levon Brooks, was charged and convicted, in large part, on the strength of bite mark analysis performed by West. Just as in Brewer’s case, Hayne, the medical examiner, called in West to analyze “bite marks” on the child’s wrist. West testified that the marks were human bite marks consistent with Levon Brooks’ two top teeth.


    At the time of Smith’s murder, Johnson often visited a house near hers; at the time of Jackson’s murder, he was staying near the Jackson home. Johnson was the only suspect with a history of sexually assaulting women and girls, and he was an initial suspect in both crimes. The same sheriff’s officer investigated both crimes and the same District Attorney prosecuted both crimes. Twice they overlooked evidence pointing to Johnson and focused on an innocent man.


    On February 15, 2008, charges against Kennedy Brewer were dropped and he was exonerated. On the same day, the Innocence Project, along with Mississippi Innocence Project co-counsel, won Brooks’ release from prison. Brooks was subsequently exonerated in March 2008. He was represented by the Innocence Project and Mississippi Innocence Project. Since DNA testing could not be conducted in his case, he was exonerated based on Johnson’s confession and other evidence and is not listed as a DNA exoneration case.


    Legal assistance in the two cases was provided by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher LLP and Affiliates, Andre de Gruy of the Office of Capital Defense Counsel in Mississippi, and Robert B. McDuff.

    32. Johnny Briscoe

    Incident Date: 10/21/82
    Jurisdiction: MO
    Charge: Forcible rape, sodomy, burglary, robbery, stealing, armed criminal action
    Conviction: Forcible rape, sodomy, burglary, robbery, stealing, armed criminal action
    Sentence: 45 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1983
    Exoneration Date: 7/19/06
    Sentence Served: 23 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Yes
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Not Yet

    Johnny Briscoe was released from a Missouri prison on July 19, 2006 after DNA testing on cigarette butts from the crime scene proved that he did not commit the rape for which he had been incarcerated for 23 years.


    Briscoe and his lawyers had been told since 2000 that evidence in his case had been lost or destroyed. In 2006, it was located and tested, proving his innocence.


    The Crime
    In the early morning hours of October 21, 1982, a man broke into a woman’s apartment in a suburb of St. Louis, Mo. The victim said that the man threatened her with a knife, stole her jewelry and then brutally raped her. After the rape, the man stayed with the victim for an hour, smoking a cigarette while the victim smoked two cigarettes. The two were together in a brightly lit room and the man told the victim that his name was John Briscoe.


    Eventually, the man left the apartment and the victim called police. While police were still in the apartment, a man called the victim several times and identified himself as John Briscoe. The call was traced by police to a payphone near Briscoe’s apartment.


    On the morning of the incident, the victim was taken to the hospital for a rape examination. A rape kit including biological samples was collected from her.


    The victim would later identify Briscoe in a photo lineup as well as a live lineup. Briscoe was the only man in the live lineup wearing an orange jumpsuit.


    The Trial
    At Briscoe’s 1983 trial for forcible rape, sodomy, burglary, robbery, stealing and armed criminal action, the victim identified Briscoe as the man who had attacked her. Briscoe’s lawyer presented an alibi defense on his behalf.


    A forensic chemist from the St. Louis County Crime Laboratory testified that semen was present on swabs from the victim’s rape kit as well as on pantyhose, a towel and the victim’s bed sheets. A forensic hair expert testified that a head hair found on the victim’s bed sheet showed characteristics similar to Briscoe’s head hair. Because there is not adequate empirical data on the frequency of various class characteristics in human hair, an analyst’s assertion that hairs are consistent or similar is inherently prejudicial and lacks probative value.


    A jury took less than two hours to convict Briscoe and he was sentenced to 45 years in state prison. Briscoe was 29 years old.


    Post-conviction
    After his conviction, Briscoe maintained his innocence and sought DNA testing on the biological evidence collected at the crime scene. In 1997, Briscoe’s motion to compel the St. Louis District Attorney’s Office to search for evidence was denied.


    In 2000, Centurion Ministries, a Princeton, N.J.-based non-profit organization that seeks to overturn wrongful convictions, began working on Briscoe’s case. In 2000 and again in 2001, Briscoe’s attorneys requested that the St. Louis Crime Laboratory search for evidence in his case. Laboratory officials said that evidence could not be found and was presumed destroyed.


    In 2004, a laboratory inventory turned up the cigarette butts from Briscoe’s case in a freezer, but the district attorney said his office was not informed of the existence of the cigarettes until July 6, 2006. DNA testing on one of the cigarette butts showed the profile of a man other than Briscoe. This foreign profile matched a man currently serving time in the Missouri prison system. This man was known to Briscoe and may have used Briscoe’s name in the crime.


    Briscoe, 52, walked out of a Charleston, Mo. prison on July 19, 2006, just days after being told that the evidence had been found and tested.

    33. Dale Brison
    Incident Date: 7/14/90
    Jurisdiction: PA
    Charge: Rape, Kidnapping, Agg. Assault, Carrying Weapon, Invol. Deviate Sex. Intercourse
    Conviction: Rape, Kidnapping, Agg. Assault, Carrying Weapon, Inv. Deviate Sex. Intercourse (3 cts.)
    Sentence: 18-42 Years

    Year of Conviction: 1990
    Exoneration Year: 1994
    Sentence Served: 3.5 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Government Misconduct, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Not Yet

    On July 14, 1990, the thirty-seven year old victim was walking home from a convenience store when she was approached from behind. The assailant put one hand on her throat, one on her waist, and forced her to walk with him. The assailant stabbed her in the side as they were walking and she became unconscious. 

    When she woke up, they were walking to bushes near an apartment complex, where he sexually assaulted her repeatedly. Dale Brison was convicted of this rape, kidnapping, aggravated assault, carrying a prohibited offensive weapon, and three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. Brison was sentenced to eighteen to forty-two years of imprisonment. During the trial, Brison’s request for DNA testing was denied.


    The victim had provided police and prosecutors with separate identifications of Brison near her apartment building. A hair sample from the scene of the crime was deemed consistent with Brison’s. Because there is not adequate empirical data on the frequency of various class characteristics in human hair, however, an analyst’s assertion that hairs are consistent is inherently prejudicial and lacks probative value. Brison presented an alibi defense, which was corroborated at trial by his mother.

    In 1992, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that DNA testing must be performed if evidence had been maintained and the semen stain from the victim’s underwear was not too degraded. The cost of the test was placed upon the Commonwealth.


    The laboratory reported that no result could be found from the vaginal swab, but testing on the spermatozoa found in the semen stain on the victim’s underwear provided results that exculpated Brison. The district attorney’s office performed the same tests and came up with the same results.


    Brison was released after serving three and a half years of his sentence.


    34. Jimmy Ray Bromgard

    Incident Date: 3/20/87
    Jurisdiction: MT
    Charge: Sexual Intercourse w/o Consent
    Conviction: Sexual Intercourse w/o Consent (3 cts.)
    Sentence: 40 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1987
    Exoneration Date: 10/1/02
    Sentence Served: 14.5. Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Bad Lawyering, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Yes

    On October 1, 2002, Jimmy Ray Bromgard became the 111th person in the United States to be exonerated by postconviction DNA testing. Bromgard spent fourteen and a half years in a Montana prison for a crime he did not commit - the rape of an eight-year-old girl.


    On March 20, 1987, a young girl was attacked in her Billings home by an intruder who had broken in through a window. She was raped vaginally, anally, and orally. The perpetrator fled after stealing a purse and jacket. The victim was examined the same day. Police collected her underwear and the bed sheets upon which the crime was committed. Semen was identified on the underwear and several hairs were collected from the bed sheets.


    Based on the victim's recollection, police produced a composite sketch of the intruder. An officer familiar with him thought Jimmy Ray Bromgard resembled the composite sketch. Bromgard eventually agreed to participate in a lineup, which was also videotaped. In the live proceedings, the victim picked out Bromgard but was not sure if he was the right man. After the victim was shown the videotaped footage of Bromgard, she said she was "60%, 65% sure." When asked at trial to rate her confidence in the identification without percentages, she replied, "I am not too sure." Still, she was allowed to identify Bromgard in court as her assailant. Bromgard's assigned counsel never objected to the in court identification.


    At trial, the prosecution's case revolved around the identification and the misleading testimony of the state's forensic expert. The semen found on the victim's underwear could not be typed, so the forensic case against Bromgard came down to the hairs found on the bed sheets. The forensic expert testified that the head and pubic hairs found on the sheets were indistinguishable from Bromgard's hair samples. He further testified that there was less than a one in ten thousand (1/10,000) chance that the hairs did not belong to Bromgard. This damning testimony was also fraudulent: there has never been a standard by which to statistically match hairs through microscopic inspection. The criminalist took the impressive numbers out of thin air.


    Bromgard's defense counsel was woefully inadequate. Other than the forensic evidence, the only other physical "evidence" was a checkbook from the victim's purse that was found on the same street where Bromgard lived. His attorney did no investigation, hired no expert to debunk the state's forensic expert, filed no motions to suppress the identification of a young girl who was, according to her testimony, at best only 65% certain , gave no opening statement, did not prepare a closing statement, and failed to file an appeal after Bromgard's conviction.


    Bromgard testified that he was at home and asleep when the crime occurred. None of his fingerprints were found in the house, nor were any found on the checkbook that was discovered on his street. Nevertheless, Bromgard was convicted in December 1987 of three counts of sexual intercourse without consent and sentenced to three 40 year terms in prison, to be served concurrently.


    The Innocence Project began working on Bromgard's case in 2000, the same year Bromgard was turned down by the parole board, in part because he refused to participate in the sex offenders program in prison. Students located the evidence and worked with Bromgard's postconviction attorney to have it released for testing. Prosecutors consented to testing and had the victim's underwear sent to a private laboratory for testing. The results indicated that Bromgard could not have been the contributor of spermatozoa found on the victim's underwear.


    Jimmy Ray Bromgard was eighteen years old when he was convicted of this brutal crime. He spent fourteen and a half years in prison before DNA testing proved his innocence.


    The causes of Bromgard's wrongful conviction should have serious ramifications for the Montana criminal justice system. Fraudulent science and incompetent lawyering, both avoidable, were the major causes and must be redressed. The ACLU has already filed a class action lawsuit against the indigent defender system in seven Montana counties for not providing adequate counsel for indigent clients (see our
    Bad Lawyering section).

    The forensic scientist that testified fraudulently against Bromgard was, at the time, the director of the Montana Department of Justice - Forensic Science Division. He testified in hundreds of other cases in Montana and later in Washington. A report by a peer review committee of top forensic scientists was issued which characterized the statistical evidence as junk science and urged the Montana Attorney General to conduct an audit of the witness's work in other cases. Read more about
    forensic science misconduct as cause of wrongful conviction

     
    148. Larry Johnson

    Incident Year: 1984
    Jurisdiction: MO
    Charge: Rape, Sodomy, Robbery, Kidnapping
    Conviction: Rape, Sodomy, First Deg. Robbery, Kidnapping
    Sentence: Life +
    Year of Conviction: 1984
    Exoneration Date: 7/30/02
    Sentence Served: 18 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification
    Compensation? Yes


    Larry Johnson was convicted of charges stemming from the rape that occurred in Missouri in January 1984. He was sentenced to life in prison plus fifteen consecutive years for sodomy.


    The victim was attacked in her car in the early morning. The attacker, whose face was masked by a sweatshirt and scarf, forced his way into her car and threatened her with a knife. She was then driven to an alley where she was raped and sodomized for two hours. After the attack, the victim drove home and contacted the police and was taken to a hospital for the purposes of collecting a rape kit.


    The victim described the assailant as a clean shaven black man. She helped the police produce a composite sketch and later identified Larry Johnson’s picture from a photo array, despite the fact that he had a mustache. After his arrest, the victim picked Johnson from a lineup.


    At trial, the defense was barred from asking about identification of the spermatozoa that had been recovered from the vaginal slide, the victim’s panties, and a swatch from her sweater. The court relied on previous decisions that had addressed the issue of inclusion statistics on saliva tests. No fingerprints were found in the victim’s car. Based largely on the victim’s cross-racial identification, Johnson was convicted in August 1984.


    Johnson’s appeals failed. He contacted the Innocence Project in 1995 seeking assistance with gaining access to the biological evidence for DNA testing. He and the Project would face considerable resistance to these efforts.


    Various Innocence Project students, beginning in 1996, attempted to verify the existence of the evidence. They were told that there was a record of the evidence existing but that the police department would not physically check absent a court order. The Circuit Attorney’s Office offered similar resistance to finding the evidence. In 1998, all other government offices were instructed to refrain from helping the Innocence Project confirm the existence or destruction of the evidence.


    In 2000, the Innocence Project filed a civil rights suit seeking injunctive relief in the form of access to the biological evidence. Again, the prosecution would not release the evidence. Their office began a review of the Johnson case and several other Innocence Project cases in Missouri in December 2000.


    In February 2001, the Supreme Court of Missouri adopted a rule, effective September 1, 2001, that allowed for the filing of motions seeking post conviction DNA testing. The Project perfected a motion on Johnson’s behalf and filed in November 2001.


    The following January, the Court ordered the Circuit Attorney’s Office to respond to the motion. Finally, in March 2002, the Circuit Attorney’s Office replied indicating that it would not oppose Johnson’s motion. According to the protocol adopted, both parties would receive the results from testing simultaneously.


    Testing began at the state crime laboratory in July 2002. On July 26, 2002, the Innocence Project was informed by the Associated Press that the Circuit Attorney had scheduled a press conference for the same day to announce that DNA testing had excluded Larry Johnson as the perpetrator.


    Johnson was exonerated and released on July 30, 2002. Larry Johnson served eighteen years in prison for a brutal crime that he did not commit.


    149. George Rodriguez

    Incident Year: 1987
    Jurisdiction: TX
    Charge: Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, Aggravated Kidnapping
    Conviction: Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, Aggravated Kidnapping
    Sentence: 60 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1987
    Exoneration Year: 2005
    Sentence Served: 17 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    Compensation? Not Yet


    The Crime
    In February 1987, in Houston, Texas, a fourteen-year-old girl was forced into a car by two Latino men. She was taken to a house where both men raped her. After the sexual assault, she was placed in the car again and left on a roadside.


    In her initial statements to police, the victim characterized her assailants as the skinny one and the fat one. She also provided details about the house and the route the assailants took to get there. One of the assailants had called the other by the name of George, but the victim indicated that she thought this was a fake name, as the assailants had discussed not using their names.


    Based on this information, police went to the house belonging to Manuel and Uvaldo Beltran, brothers who were acquainted with George Rodriguez. Because the name George was used in the attack, Rodriguez became a suspect because one of the investigating officers knew of the Beltrans and knew that Rodriguez was an associate of Manuel. When questioned, Rodriguez claimed that he was at work at the time of the crime, a claim confirmed by his work records.


    Uvaldo Beltran told police that he had been at home watching television when his brother and Isidro Yanez walked through with the victim and went to a bedroom. Manuel Beltran admitted to the crime, telling police that he and Yanez had brought the victim to the house and raped her in the bedroom while his brother was in the living room watching television. Yanez had previously been named in a similar crime in the area. Police also confirmed that Yanez’s car was used in the abduction.


    The Identification
    Before the police spoke to Uvaldo Beltran, they had already shown the victim a photo array that included George Rodriguez’s photograph. She identified him from this array.


    Despite the evidence pointing to Yanez as Manuel Beltran’s partner in crime, police continued to consider Rodriguez a suspect. Proclaiming his innocence, Rodriguez agreed to take part in a show-up procedure, where the victim identified him, partly by the way he stood, as the fat perpetrator. She later testified that she had only been able to view his face for 3-4 seconds during the attack.


    It was not until two months after the attack that the victim was shown a picture of Yanez. His picture was included with that of Rodriguez in a photo book. The victim picked out both pictures, noting their similarities, but eventually identified Rodriguez again as her assailant.


    The Biological Evidence
    Rodriguez became the main suspect after false evidence was returned from the Houston Police Department Crime Laboratory, then under the direction of Jim Bolding. The laboratory tested the victim’s rape kit and clothing. A hair found in the victim’s underwear was said to be microscopically similar to the hair standard from George Rodriguez.


    Semen found on the victim’s clothing and rape kit samples was said to include Manuel Beltran. Bolding testified that Rodriguez could not be excluded from these samples but that Yanez definitely could not have contributed to the samples. At the trial, this testimony represented the only physical link between Rodriguez and the crime.

    This testimony was later proven false by the State’s own testing. Bolding’s testimony at trial had falsely excluded Yanez.


    Conviction and Post-Conviction
    In October 1987, despite the statements of the Beltran brothers and the acknowledged similarities in features between Rodriguez and Yanez, George Rodriguez was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison.


    Rodriguez lost all of his appeals. In 2002, the Innocence Project began working on Rodriguez’s case. Most of the probative biological evidence had been destroyed in 1995. The hair that was microscopically matched to Rodriguez, however, was located. This was the same evidence that, coupled with the false serological conclusions, convinced the police to focus on Rodriguez and turn away from Yanez.


    Rodriguez successfully petitioned for postconviction DNA testing of the hair in 2003. Results of mitochondrial testing obtained in 2004 indicated that Rodriguez could not have been the man who left the pubic hair found in the victim’s underwear. Importantly, Yanez could not be excluded as a source of the hair.


    Additionally, further serological testing by the prosecution revealed that Yanez was mis-typed at the time of trial and should never have been excluded as a potential contributor of the semen from the rape kit and the victim’s clothing.


    Based on these scientific results, Rodriguez’s conviction was vacated. At the end of August 2005, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals formally vacated the conviction. At the end of September 2005, the District Attorney moved to dismiss all charges.


    After 17 years in prison and one year on bail waiting for the court’s decision, George Rodriguez’s conviction was vacated, confirming the results of post conviction DNA testing. 


    150. Bruce Godschalk

    Incident Year: 1986
    Jurisdiction: PA
    Charge: Rape, Burglary
    Conviction: Forcible Rape (2 cts.), Burglary (2 cts.)
    Sentence: 10-20 Years
    Year of Conviction: 1987
    Exoneration Date: 2/14/02
    Sentence Served: 14.5 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification, False Confessions / Admissions, Government Misconduct, Informants
    Compensation? Yes


    In May of 1987, Bruce Godschalk was convicted of two counts of forcible rape and two counts of burglary in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He received ten to twenty years for the crimes. Godschalk’s conviction was based primarily on the eyewitness identifications of the victims and the detailed confession that was taken after his interrogation by police, a confession that has been proven to be false.


    In 1986, two women in the same apartment complex were accosted by the same perpetrator. Both were awoken by an intruder and raped. Only one of the two victims was able to identify Godschalk. The second victim was able to assist police in creating a composite sketch of her assailant that was subsequently broadcast on television and placed in local newspapers. On December 30, 1986, the police received a call telling them that Bruce Godschalk resembled the man in the composite sketch.


    On January 13, 1987, the police obtained a taped confession from Godschalk that contained information not available to the public. The two rapes were tried together in May of 1987. The prosecution relied on the identification made by the second victim, Godschalk’s confession, the testimony of a jailhouse snitch who claimed that Godschalk had made inculpatory statements, and the presence of semen in the evidence collected from the investigation of both crimes. Conventional serology could not exclude Godschalk from being the donor of the semen. The defense put forth an alibi defense, but Godschalk was convicted of both crimes.


    Godschalk’s appeals were denied. He contacted the Innocence Project in 1995, after his own motion for DNA testing was denied. The Innocence Project tried for years to obtain a copy of the taped confession, which the prosecution refused to provide until 1999.


    The tape was sent to an expert, who concluded that it was likely that Godschalk had falsely confessed. The analysis of the confession notwithstanding, the District Attorney refused to allow access to the biological evidence for testing.


    In November 2000, the Innocence Project and local counsel filed a Section 1983 civil rights complaint seeking access to the evidence. After the Federal District Court granted access to the evidence and the prosecution’s motion to dismiss was denied, the District Attorney consented to release the evidence in the spring of 2001.



    Delays in setting a testing protocol and delivering the evidence led to the Innocence Project filing of a motion for summary judgement in June 2001.


    In their response to this motion, the prosecution revealed that they had sent the relevant evidence to a laboratory and had it tested, without the knowledge or consent of the Innocence Project. Prosecutors reported that their laboratory had not been able to obtain results and, furthermore, represented that the evidence had been consumed in this secret testing. The District Attorney also included an affidavit from the police officer that had elicited the confession from Godschalk.


    Several of the “facts” represented in the District Attorney’s motion were false. Though they claimed that all of the evidence from one of the crimes was sent to the laboratory, a carpet sample with semen was never received by the laboratory.



    The District Attorney’s Office told the Court that the carpet sample was not introduced as evidence and was not significant to the case, though this sample originated from the home of the victim that could not identify Godschalk and was used at trial to tie him to the scene of the crime.


    The prosecution had entrusted the same police officer that had elicited Godschalk’s confession with the delivery of the evidence to the laboratory. He had also been the investigating officer that had removed the carpet from the crime scene. The carpet sample resurfaced in October 2001.


    The evidence from both cases was tested at Forensic Science Associates in January 2002. Not only were profiles obtained from the evidence in both rapes, the male profiles matched, meaning that the same perpetrator committed both crimes. Bruce Godschalk was excluded. The District Attorney had their own laboratory perform testing.


    Despite the fact that their own laboratory obtained similar results from the evidence, the District Attorney’s Office refused to release Godschalk from prison, citing possibly flawed testing in the face of the evidence, namely the confession and the identification.


    Finally, on February 14, 2002, Bruce Godschalk was released. He has maintained not only his innocence, but that his confession was coerced and the details it contained were provided by the investigating officer, allegations supported by the test results. After fifteen years in prison and seven years of fighting for DNA testing, Bruce Godschalk has been exonerated and freed from prison.


    151. Calvin Willis

    Incident Year: 1981
    Jurisdiction: LA
    Charge: Rape
    Conviction: Aggravated Rape
    Sentence: Life
    Year of Conviction: 1982
    Exoneration Date: 9/23/03
    Sentence Served: 21.5 Years
    Real perpetrator found? Not Yet
    Contributing Causes: Eyewitness Misidentification
    Compensation? Yes


    On September 18, 2003, Calvin Willis was released from prison after serving more than 21 years for a crime he did not commit. Post conviction DNA testing excluded Willis as the perpetrator of a 1981 rape for which he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.


    The Crime
    In June 1981, an intruder entered a home in Shreveport, Louisiana, where three girls - aged 10, 9, and 7 - had fallen asleep after playing dress-up. Two of the girls had fallen asleep on the couch, the third in bed. The intruder carried the nine-year-old from the couch to the bed, where her seven-year-old sister was sleeping. The ten-year-old victim awoke and saw a man standing above her, naked except for a cowboy hat.



    The attacker choked her and banged her head against the wall. The victim was able to escape and ran from the intruder, but was caught in the front yard, where a struggle ensued. She was kicked in the stomach and lost consciousness. The girls in the bedroom heard noises but remained in the bedroom. Their mother, the owner of the house, returned in the morning. She called the victim’s mother after noticing that the victim was in pain.


    The victim’s mother arrived and the police were summoned. Investigators noted that the victim’s face was bruised and that she was obviously in pain. The police officers that responded to the call testified that the victim was incoherent and did not provide an intelligible description of the assailant. Her mother claimed that she told police that her daughter said an ugly man with a beard under his face did this to her.


    The victim was taken to the hospital, where a rape kit, including fingernail scrapings, was collected. The police collected the panties and nightgown that the victim was wearing as well as a bedspread and a pair of men’s size 40 boxer shorts found on the arm of the couch. The boxer shorts had not been there before the crime and the girls’ mother did not recognize them. Investigators attempted to interview the victim at the hospital but were not able to do so.


    The Identification
    Police interviews with the nine-year-old girl differed. In one report, she recollected that she was asleep on the couch with the victim and awoke as she was being carried by black man. She could not see his face but described his shoes, which were shaped like cowboy boots. In another report, the girl said that Calvin Willis stopped by the house looking for a woman who lived there previously. Later, another man stopped by looking for the same woman. The second man wore a cowboy hat, cowboy shoes, and had a big blue and white car.



    This second report was not disclosed at the time of trial. With regard to the crime, she described the assailant as a big man with a cowboy hat, beard, and moustache put her in the bed and attacked the victim. She heard him throw the victim against a wall and threaten to kill her if she called the police. At trial, the girl identified Willis by his boots, though her testimony of what the boots looked like differed from the boots Willis was arrested in two days after the crime. She testified that she did not see the attacker’s face. She also identified the nightgown collected as the one worn by the victim after the attack.


    The seven-year-old girl testified that she had been asleep alone and that her sister came into the room later. She awoke when she heard the victim’s cries and the attacker threatening to kill the victim. She identified the voice as that of Calvin Willis, whom she had spoken with once. She identified the nightgown and panties collected as the clothing the victim was wearing after the attack.


    The girl’s mother testified that the police showed her two photographs of Calvin Willis and asked what kind of car he drove. She told them that Willis had been in her house before, he was known to wear a cowboy hat, she had seen him in boots similar to those described by her daughter, and that she did not influence the victim in thinking that Willis committed the crime.



    Her initial testimony did not include the victim saying anything about a cowboy hat. She later testified that the victim mentioned a cowboy hat and beard, then that her daughters told her about the hat and boots, and finally that she overheard the victim telling her mother that Willis had been to the house.


    A neighbor testified that her dogs had started barking that night, prompting her to look out her window between 1:30 AM and 2:30 AM. She saw a blue car with a black stripe drive by her house. A defense investigator’s report indicatee that this neighbor was interviewed a few days after the crime and did not report any unusual noises or vehicles.


    Police testimony also differed with regard to the photographic identification. After being released from the hospital, the victim was taken to police to be interviewed. The victim’s answers had to be translated by her mother. An investigator testified that she showed the victim a lineup that included Willis’s photograph because the victim had said that Calvin was the attacker. Her mother provided the last name of Willis.



    The victim’s mother testified that Willis’s name did not come up before the lineup. Upon further questioning, however, she testified that the victim had said Calvin did it before they were taken to the police station and that he had been wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. She went on to testify that she knew the name Calvin Willis before going to the police station because neighbors told her he could have committed the crime.


    The victim testified that she was told to pick the men in the photographic lineup that did not have a full beard. She also testified that she did not pick anyone from the lineup and that Willis’s picture was not part of the array. Her testimony includes a statement that Calvin was standing above her when she awoke, but the victim never made an in-court identification of Willis.


    The Evidence
    The doctor that examined the victim testified that he collected the rape kit and identified non-motile sperm on a slide.


    The Northeast Louisiana Crime Laboratory performed conventional serological testing on the rape kit evidence. Blood was identified on the victim’s panties. Seminal stains were found on the nightgown. Testing of the seminal stains revealed blood group O markers. The victim is a type A secretor and Willis is an O secretor and, therefore, could not be excluded as a contributor to the stain.



    Seminal fluid with blood group O markers was also found on the bedspread. Willis was excluded from being the contributor of various hairs recovered from the bedspread. Blood was found on the boxer shorts that could not exclude the victim. No seminal fluid was detected on the vaginal swab.


    The Trial
    From the time he was arrested, Willis denied having anything to do with the crime. He was known in the neighborhood because he used to live there and still had family residing there. He had friends in the neighborhood that he often visited.


    Willis’s wife testified that he had returned that night shortly before midnight and that they had spent the whole night together. She also testified that she often bought clothes for him and that his waist size was 29. Further, he had his boxer shorts on when he returned that night.


    Willis himself testified that he had dropped off his friend and returned home before midnight. His description of the clothes he was wearing that night did not match those described by any of the three girls. In the past, he had been to the house where the crime occurred and all three girls had seen him several times, but he was not there and did not see the victim on the night of the crime.


    The jury did not believe Willis’s alibi. He was convicted in February 1982 of rape and sentenced to life in prison without parole.


    Post-Conviction
    Though he presented evidence that the girls had named another man who had stopped by the house that night wearing clothes similar to the victim’s description, Willis’s postconviction motion was denied. In 1998, his case was accepted by the Innocence Project. Evidence was located in the clerk’s office of the Caddo Parish District Court. The nightgown, rape kit, and boxer shorts were submitted to Forensic Science Associates for testing. No probative biological material was identified on the nightgown due, perhaps, to degradation. Results were obtained from mixed samples found on the boxer shorts and the fingernail scrapings from the rape kit.


    Testing of the material found under the victim’s fingernails revealed two sources of DNA, one male and one female. The female portion matched the DNA profile of the victim.


    Testing of the blood found on the boxer shorts revealed a mixture of DNA profiles. The victim’s profile matched that of the major contributor of the stain. Two other profiles, at least one of which was male, were obtained. Another mixture was detected on the fly section of the boxers. The primary contributor to the non-sperm portion of that sample was a male. The sperm fraction of that sample revealed the profiles of several males.


    Importantly, the profile of the male contributor to the fingernail scrapings is compatible with the male profile from the blood stain mixture on the boxer shorts, the non-sperm fraction of the mixture on the fly, and one of the male profiles from the sperm fraction on the fly.


    Calvin Willis was excluded from being a contributor to any of the samples.


    Exoneration
    Prosecutors have decided not to re-try Willis. On September 18, 2003, he was released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola and was greeted by his family and long-time advocate Janet Gregory. Willis had spent more than 21 years in prison for a brutal rape that he did not commit.







    Cornelius Dupree Jr., left, and Innocence Project lawyer Nina Morrison talk to CNN after Dupree became a free man. January 4th, 2011. A Texas man imprisoned 30 years ago on aggravated robbery charges had his conviction overturned on Tuesday after DNA evidence exonerated him.


    Dallas County Judge Don Adams overturned Cornelius Dupree Jr.’s conviction Tuesday, clearing his name officially. "It's a joy to be free," Dupree, 51, said outside court.


    Dupree has served more years in a Texas prison for a crime he did not commit than anyone else in the state who was later exonerated by DNA evidence. Only two other people exonerated by DNA have spent more time in prison in the entire country, the Innocence Project said. Texas has freed 41 wrongly convicted prisoners because of DNA testing since 2001, more than any other state.


    Dupree told CNN after becoming a free man that he had "mixed emotions" about the hearing considering how long he had been incarcerated.


    "I must admit there is a bit of anger, but there is also joy, and the joy overrides the anger," he told CNN. "I'm just so overwhelmed with the joy of being free."


    The judge's decision followed comments from Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, who said the DNA testing shows Dupree "did not commit this crime." Dupree is trying not to be too angry, despite having 30 years of his life taken away.


    "I think that could have happened to anyone," he told CNN. "It's just unfortunate that it happened to me. The system needs to be corrected somehow." That system he refers to includes Dallas specifically, where a record 21 people have been exonerated on DNA evidence, and Texas as a whole.


    "Cornelius Dupree spent the prime of his life behind bars because of mistaken identification that probably would have been avoided if the best practices now used in Dallas had been employed,” Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, said in a press release. "Let us never forget that, as in the heartbreaking case of Cornelius Dupree, a staggering 75% of wrongful convictions of people later cleared by DNA evidence resulted from misidentifications.”


    Nina Morrison, senior staff attorney at the Innocence Project, told CNN "an enormous number" of the wrongly accused people convicted in Dallas and around the country were convicted on the basis of mistaken witness identification. But she said that big improvements in those procedures have been made "so that what happened to Mr. Dupree doesn't happen to anyone else."


    Morrison attributed Dupree's exoneration also to the work of the district attorney who has been examining previous convictions closely - and to Dallas County's saving of evidence. "Dallas has been a leader in saving evidence," she said, noting that even though the policy was evidence had to be saved from cases from 1981 and later, evidence from Dupree's case in 1979 still existed. "So it was something of a small miracle" that it was preserved, she said.


    Watkins, the district attorney, said there were really no standards in place about how to keep evidence, but when he came into office he made it his job to do whatever he could to "not just to seek convictions but to seek justice."


    "We created a unit that specifically looked at claims of innocence," he said. "And unfortunately it shows people who made those claims were truly innocent." Watkins works with Morrison and others at the Innocence Project now, hoping to right wrongs from the past, and bring trust back to a system that has been brought into question. "It gives us credibility now," he said. "[Residents] actually believe in what we're doing, that we're here not just to seek convictions but to seek justice and seek the truth." 


    Dupree was paroled six months ago after DNA tests results came back. He was declared innocent on Monday, the Innocence Project said.


    Dupree was accused of being one of two men who forced a 26-year-old woman and another male into a car at gunpoint in 1979, forcing them to drive the car and robbing them in the process, according to court documents. The two men also were accused of raping the female, court documents said. But, prosecutors did not pursue rape charges in the case because it would not result in additional jail time, according to the Innocence Project.


    The female victim initially identified Dupree from a photo line-up, but the male was unable to do so, according to court documents. At trial, however, both victims said Dupree and his co-defendant Anthony Massingill were the ones who committed the crime. They were convicted, and Dupree was sentenced to 75 years. Massingill, who is also serving time for a separate rape charge, is expected to also have his conviction set aside, the Innocence Project said.


    Dupree has been fighting for his innocence since the day he was arrested, and for years following his conviction claiming he was mistakenly identified as the suspect. The Court of Criminal Appeals turned him down three times.


    Mistaken identification has always plagued the criminal justice system, but great strides have been made in the last three decades to understand the problem and come up with fixes like those being considered by the state Legislature that help minimize wrongful convictions,” Morrison said in a press release. “We hope state lawmakers take note of the terrible miscarriage of justice suffered by Cornelius. When the wrong person is convicted of a crime, the real perpetrator goes free, harming everyone.”  (http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/04/innocent-man-jailed-since-1979-likely-to-be-freed/)




    153. Thirteen Police Officers Accused Of Framing Three Men Over Cardiff Prostitute Murder (Dt.4/03/2009).

    Thirteen police officers were yesterday accused of framing three men wrongly jailed for killing a prostitute 21 years ago.

    They are alleged to have fabricated evidence in the case of Lynette White, 21, who was stabbed 70 times.

    Her boyfriend and two friends - dubbed the Cardiff Three - were originally jailed for life for the killing but freed two years later on appeal. The real murderer Jeffrey Gafoor was eventually convicted six years ago through DNA evidence.

    This sparked an inquiry into the detective work in Lynette's case. Now the CPS says there is enough evidence to prosecute 13 officers - three serving and 10 retired - involved in the original investigation.

    They are to be charged with conspiracy to pervert justice. Two civilian workers face perjury raps. Tom Davies, the Independent Police Complaints Commission boss in Wales, said yesterday: "It is important for public confidence in the police and the complaints process that the full story of this re-investigation is told.

    "The trial of these people will enable that to happen."

    Lynette was murdered in a flat above a betting shop in Cardiff in 1988. Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi and Anthony Paris were jailed for murder but released in 1990 after their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal.

    Last October, three witnesses were jailed for perjury after admitting lying under police pressure at their trial.  

    The CPS decision to charge 15 officers and civilian staff over a miscarriage of justice is unprecedented in its scale. Few officers have ever been tried over claims they fabricated evidence.

    The accused have been summoned to appear at City of Westminster magistrates court next month. The maximum sentence for conspiracy to pervert justice is life. The longest for perjury is seven years.

    Due in Court
    The 13 summonsed with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice are: PC John Howard Murray, Det Sgt Paul Stephen, Det Con Paul Jennings, Wayne Pugh (now a civilian police worker) and former officers Graham Mouncher, Richard Powell, Thomas Page, Michael Daniels, John Brian Gillard, Peter Greenwood, John Seaford, Rachel O'Brien and Stephen Hicks.

    Civilians Violet Perriam and Ian Massey are summonsed with two counts of perjury in relation to the evidence they gave at the murder trials.
    (http://wrongful-convictions.blogspot.com/2010/05/thirteen-police-officers-accused-of.html).




    154. Michael Evans

    http://www.ahalelaw.com/category/results/wrongful-conviction-innocence-pardon-innocence-certificate-cases/



    Evans v. City of Chicago, et al. (27 years in prison) Michael Evans was arrested in 1976 and charged with the kidnapping, rape and murder of a nine-year old girl. He was convicted and spent 27 years in prison before being released in 2003 based on DNA testing. Evans received an “Innocence” pardon from Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Evans sued 10 retired Chicago police officers claiming...
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    155. Jerry Miller



    Miller v. City of Chicago, et al. (26 years in prison) Jerry Miller was arrested for rape in 1982 and spent 26 years in prison before DNA testing showed he was innocent of the crime. Miller received an “Innocence” pardon from the Illinois Governor and then sued several retired Chicago police officers claiming, among other things, that they conducted a suggestive lineup and withheld material...
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    156. Oscar Walden



    Walden v. City of Chicago (14 years in prison) Oscar Walden was arrested in 1952 and charged with rape. He was convicted and spent 14 years in prison before being released on parole in 1965. In 2002, Walden received an “Innocence” pardon from Illinois Governor George Ryan. Walden then sued the City of Chicago claiming he was coerced into confessing to the rape and alleging that the City of...
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    157. Paul Terry



    Terry v. City of Chicago, et al. (27 years in prison) Paul Terry was arrested in 1977 and charged with the kidnapping, rape and murder of a nine-year old girl. His friend, Michael Evans, had been arrested the year before. He was convicted and spent 27 years in prison before being released in 2003 based on DNA testing. Terry received an “Innocence” pardon from Illinois Governor Rod...
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    158. Thaddeus Jimenez


    Jimenez v. City of Chicago, et al. (16 years in prison) Thaddeus Jimenez was arrested in 1993, at the age of 13, and charged with murder in the shooting death of a 16 year old. He was convicted in 1993, received a new trial, and was convicted again in 1997. In 2006, one of the key eyewitnesses against him “flipped” and claimed another youth was the real killer. Based on this alleged new...
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    159. Ronald Kitchen



    Kitchen v. City of Chicago, et al. (21 years in prison) Ronald Kitchen (along with Marvin Reeves) was convicted in 1988 of the murder of two women and three children. Based on allegations that he was tortured into confessing, Kitchen was released from prison in 2009 and received a certificate of innocence from the presiding judge of the Criminal Division of the Cook County Circuit Court. Kitchen...
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    160. Alton Logan


    Logan v. City of Chicago, et al. (26 years in prison) Alton Logan was convicted in 1983 of shooting and killing a security guard at a McDonald’s restaurant in Chicago. In 2007, attorneys for Andrew Wilson came forward and disclosed that their client, Mr. Wilson, had admitted to the McDonald’s killing years ago. Based on this new evidence, Logan was released from prison in 2007 and Logan has...
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    161. Marvin Reeves



    Reeves v. City of Chicago, et al. (20 years in prison) Marvin Reeves (along with Ronald Kitchen) was convicted in 1988 of the murder of two women and three children. Based on allegations that a witness against him was tortured into identifying Reeves as one of the killers, Reeves was released from prison in 2009 and received a certificate of innocence from the presiding judge of the Criminal...
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    162. Michael Tillman


    Tillman v. City of Chicago, et al. (23 years in prison) Michael Tillman was convicted in 1986 of murdering a woman in an apartment building in Chicago. 

    Based on claims that he was tortured into confessing, Tillman was released from prison in 2010 and received a certificate of innocence from the presiding judge of the Criminal Division of the Cook County Circuit Court. Tillman has now sued...
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    13. WHAT IS CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE? HOW RELIABLE IS CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE?





    13.1. Circumstantial Evidence Must be Beyond Reasonable Doubt:-


    (e.g. Earabhadrappa v. State of Karnataka (AIR 1983 SC 446); State of U.P. v. Sukhbasi and Ors. (AIR 1985 SC 1224); Balwinder Singh v. State of Punjab (AIR 1987 SC 350); Ashok Kumar Chatterjee v. State of M.P. (AIR 1989 SC 1890).



    The circumstances from which an inference as to the guilt of the accused is drawn have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt and have to be shown to be closely connected with the principal fact sought to be inferred from those circumstances.

    In Bhagat Ram v. State of Punjab (AIR 1954 SC 621), it was laid down that where the case depends upon the conclusion drawn from circumstances the cumulative effect of the circumstances must be such as to negative the innocence of the accused and bring the offences home beyond any reasonable doubt.


    We may also make a reference to a decision of this Court in C. Chenga Reddy and Ors. v. State of A.P. (1996) 10 SCC 193, wherein it has been observed thus:


    "In a case based on circumstantial evidence, the settled law is that the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is drawn should be fully proved and such circumstances must be conclusive in nature. Moreover, all the circumstances should be complete and there should be no gap left in the chain of evidence. Further the proved circumstances must be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and totally inconsistent with his innocence....".




    13.2. Circumstantial Evidence Must Satisfy the Following Tests:-


    In Padala Veera Reddy v. State of A.P. and Ors. (AIR 1990 SC 79), it was laid down that when a case rests upon circumstantial evidence, such evidence must satisfy the following tests:


    (1) the circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be drawn, must be cogently and firmly established;


    (2) those circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards guilt of the accused;


    (3) the circumstances, taken cumulatively should form a chain so complete that there is no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability the crime was committed by the accused and none else; and 


    (4) the circumstantial evidence in order to sustain conviction must be complete and incapable of explanation of any other hypothesis than that of the guilt of the accused and such evidence should not only be consistent with the guilt of the accused but should be inconsistent with his innocence.



    In State of U.P. v. Ashok Kumar Srivastava, (1992 Crl.LJ 1104), it was pointed out that great care must be taken in evaluating circumstantial evidence and if the evidence relied on is reasonably capable of two inferences, the one in favour of the accused must be accepted. 

    It was also pointed out that the circumstances relied upon must be found to have been fully established and the cumulative effect of all the facts so established must be consistent only with the hypothesis of guilt.




    13.3. Circumstantial Evidence Must Follow Sir Alfred Wills’ Rules:-


    Sir Alfred Wills in his admirable book "Wills' Circumstantial Evidence" (Chapter VI) lays down the following rules specially to be observed in the case of circumstantial evidence: 


    (1) the facts alleged as the basis of any legal inference must be clearly proved and beyond reasonable doubt connected with the factum probandum; 


    (2) the burden of proof is always on the party who asserts the existence of any fact, which infers legal accountability; 


    (3) in all cases, whether of direct or circumstantial evidence the best evidence must be adduced which the nature of the case admits; 


    (4) in order to justify the inference of guilt, the inculpatory facts must be incompatible with the innocence of the accused and incapable of explanation, upon any other reasonable hypothesis than that of his guilt, 


    (5) if there be any reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused, he is entitled as of right to be acquitted".



    There is no doubt that conviction can be based solely on circumstantial evidence but it should be tested by the touch-stone of law relating to circumstantial evidence laid down by the this Court as far back as in 1952.



    In Hanumant Govind Nargundkar and Anr. V. State of Madhya Pradesh, (AIR 1952 SC 343), wherein it was observed thus:

    "It is well to remember that in cases where the evidence is of a circumstantial nature, the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be in the first instance be fully established and all the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused. Again, the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency and they should be such as to exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to be proved. In other words, there must be a chain of evidence so far complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and it must be such as to show that within all human probability the act must have been done by the accused." 



    A reference may be made to a later decision in Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, (AIR 1984 SC 1622). Therein, while dealing with circumstantial evidence, it has been held that onus was on the prosecution to prove that the chain is complete and the infirmity of lacuna in prosecution cannot be cured by false defence or plea. 




    13.4. Before Conviction, the Following Conditions Must be Fully Established:- 


    The conditions precedent in the words of this Court, before conviction could be based on circumstantial evidence, must be fully established. They are:


    (1) the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established. The circumstances concerned 'must' or 'should' and not 'may be' established;


    (2) the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty;


    (3) the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency;


    (4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and 


    (5) there must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.



    14. LISTS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE WRONGLY CONVICTED OF CRIMES (ONLY BY CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE) IN INDIA (HIGH COURT & SUPREME COURT CASES): (SUPREME COURT CASES) http://www.rishabhdara.com/sc/




    14.1. SURYA DEV RAI V. RAM CHANDER RAI & ORS. SUPREME COURT 2003. RD-SC 476 (26 September 2003)


    It has been consistently laid down by this Court that where a case rests squarely on circumstantial evidence, the inference of guilt can be justified only when all the incriminating facts and circumstances are found to be incompatible with the innocence of the accused or the guilt of any other person. (See Hukam Singh v. State of Rajasthan AIR (1977 SC 1063); Eradu and Ors. v. State of Hyderabad (AIR 1956 SC 316);


    Earabhadrappa v. State of Karnataka (AIR 1983 SC 446); State of U.P. v. Sukhbasi and Ors. (AIR 1985 SC 1224); Balwinder Singh v. State of Punjab (AIR 1987 SC 350); Ashok Kumar Chatterjee v. State of M.P. (AIR 1989 SC 1890). 

    The circumstances from which an inference as to the guilt of the accused is drawn have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt and have to be shown to be closely connected with the principal fact sought to be inferred from those circumstances.


    In Bhagat Ram v. State of Punjab (AIR 1954 SC 621), it was laid down that where the case depends upon the conclusion drawn from circumstances the cumulative effect of the circumstances must be such as to negative the innocence of the accused and bring the offences home beyond any reasonable doubt.


    We may also make a reference to a decision of this Court in C.Chenga Reddy and Ors. v. State of A.P. (1996) 10 SCC 193, wherein it has been observed thus:


    "In a case based on circumstantial evidence, the settled law is that the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is drawn should be fully proved and such circumstances must be conclusive in nature. Moreover, all the circumstances should be complete and there should be no gap left in the chain of evidence. Further the proved circumstances must be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and totally inconsistent with his innocence....".



    In Padala Veera Reddy v. State of A.P. and Ors. (AIR 1990 SC 79), it was laid down that when a case rests upon circumstantial evidence, such evidence must satisfy the following tests:


    "(1) the circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be drawn, must be cogently and firmly established;


    (2) those circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards guilt of the accused;


    (3) the circumstances, taken cumulatively should form a chain so complete that there is no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability the crime was committed by the accused and none else; and 


    (4) the circumstantial evidence in order to sustain conviction must be complete and incapable of explanation of any other hypothesis than that of the guilt of the accused and such evidence should not only be consistent with the guilt of the accused but should be inconsistent with his innocence.



    In State of U.P. v. Ashok Kumar Srivastava, (1992 Crl.LJ 1104), it was pointed out that great care must be taken in evaluating circumstantial evidence and if the evidence relied on is reasonably capable of two inferences, the one in favour of the accused must be accepted. It was also pointed out that the circumstances relied upon must be found to have been fully established and the cumulative effect of all the facts so established must be consistent only with the hypothesis of guilt.



    Sir Alfred Wills in his admirable book "Wills' Circumstantial Evidence" (Chapter VI) lays down the following rules specially to be observed in the case of circumstantial evidence: 


    (1) the facts alleged as the basis of any legal inference must be clearly proved and beyond reasonable doubt connected with the factum probandum; 


    (2) the burden of proof is always on the party who asserts the existence of any fact, which infers legal accountability; 


    (3) in all cases, whether of direct or circumstantial evidence the best evidence must be adduced which the nature of the case admits; 


    (4) in order to justify the inference of guilt, the inculpatory facts must be incompatible with the innocence of the accused and incapable of explanation, upon any other reasonable hypothesis than that of his guilt, 


    (5) if there be any reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused, he is entitled as of right to be acquitted".



    There is no doubt that conviction can be based solely on circumstantial evidence but it should be tested by the touch-stone of law relating to circumstantial evidence laid down by the this Court as far back as in 1952.



    In Hanumant Govind Nargundkar and Anr. V. State of Madhya Pradesh, (AIR 1952 SC 343), wherein it was observed thus:


    "It is well to remember that in cases where the evidence is of a circumstantial nature, the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be in the first instance be fully established and all the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused. Again, the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency and they should be such as to exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to be proved. In other words, there must be a chain of evidence so far complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and it must be such as to show that within all human probability the act must have been done by the accused." 



    A reference may be made to a later decision in Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, (AIR 1984 SC 1622). Therein, while dealing with circumstantial evidence, it has been held that onus was on the prosecution to prove that the chain is complete and the infirmity of lacuna in prosecution cannot be cured by false defence or plea. 



    The conditions precedent in the words of this Court, before conviction could be based on circumstantial evidence, must be fully established. They are:


    (1) the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established. The circumstances concerned 'must' or 'should' and not 'may be' established;


    (2) the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty;


    (3) the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency;


    (4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and 


    (5) there must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.




    14.2. STATE OF U.P. V. ASHOK KUMAR SRIVASTAVA, 1992. SUPREME COURT CASES 1992.


    It was pointed out that great care must be taken in evaluating circumstantial evidence and if the evidence relied on is reasonably capable of two inferences, the one in favour of the accused must be accepted. It was also pointed out that the circumstances relied upon must be found to have been fully established and the cumulative effect of all the facts so established must be consistent only with the hypothesis of guilt.


    Sir Alfred Wills in his admirable book "Wills' Circumstantial Evidence" (Chapter VI) lays down the following rules specially to be observed in the case of circumstantial evidence:


     (1) the facts alleged as the basis of any legal inference must be clearly proved and beyond reasonable doubt connected with the factum probandum;


     (2) the burden of proof is always on the party who asserts the existence of any fact, which infers legal accountability;


    (3) in all cases, whether of direct or circumstantial evidence the best evidence must be adduced which the nature of the case admits; 

    (4) in order to justify the inference of guilt, the inculpatory facts must be incompatible with the innocence of the accused and incapable of explanation, upon any other reasonable hypothesis than that of his guilt, 

    (5) if there be any reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused, he is entitled as of right to be acquitted".



    There is no doubt that conviction can be based solely on circumstantial evidence but it should be tested by the touch-stone of law relating to circumstantial evidence laid down by the this Court as far back as in 1952.



    In HanumantGovindNargundkar and Anr. V. State of Madhya Pradesh, (AIR 1952 SC 343), wherein it was observed thus:


    "It is well to remember that in cases where the evidence is of a circumstantial nature, the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be in the first instance be fully established and all the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused. Again, the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency and they should be such as to exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to be proved. In other words, there must be a chain of evidence so far complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and it must be such as to show that within all human probability the act must have been done by the accused." 



    A reference may be made to a later decision in SharadBirdhichandSarda v. State of Maharashtra, (AIR 1984 SC 1622). Therein, while dealing with circumstantial evidence, it has been held that onus was on the prosecution to prove that the chain is complete and the infirmity of lacuna in prosecution cannot merely be cured by false defence or plea.


    The conditions precedent in the words of this Court, before conviction could be based on circumstantial evidence, must be fully established. They are:



    (1) the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established. The circumstances concerned must or should and not may be established;



    (2) the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty;



    (3) the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency;



    (4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and



    (5) there must be a chain of evidence so compete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.



    The only circumstance which the Trial Court relied upon to hold guilt was by referring to some text books on medical jurisprudence. With reference to them it was held that case of strangulation was clearly made out.



    It cannot be said that the opinions of these authors were given in regard to circumstances exactly similar to those which arose in the case now before us nor is this a satisfactory way of dealing with or disposing of the evidence of an expert examined in this case unless the passages which are sought to be relied to discredit his opinion are put to him. This Court in Sunderlal v. The State of Madhya Pradesh (AIR 1954 SC 28), disapproved of Judges drawing conclusions adverse to the accused by relying upon such passages in the absence of their being put to medical witnesses. Similar view was expressed in Bhagwan Das and another v. State of Rajasthan (AIR 1957 SC 589). 


    Though opinions expressed in text books by specialist authors may be of considerable assistance and importance for the Court in arriving at the truth, cannot always be treated or viewed to be either conclusive or final as to what such author says to deprive even a Court of law to come to an appropriate conclusion of its own on the peculiar facts proved in a given case. In substance, though such views may have persuasive value cannot always be considered to be authoritatively binding, even to dispense with the actual proof otherwise reasonably required of the guilt of the accused in a given case. Such opinions cannot be elevated to or placed on higher pedestal than the opinion of an expert examined in Court and the weight ordinarily to which it may be entitled to or deserves to be given.


    Apart from that, even if on the hypothetical basis it is held that doubt could arise on the basis of strangulation, in the absence of any evidence whatsoever to connect the respondent-accused with the act of strangulation, the conclusions of the Trial Court could not have been maintained and the High Court which is entitled to re-appreciate the evidence could and has rightly discarded it.


    There is no embargo on the Appellate Court reviewing the evidence upon which an order of acquittal is based.

    Generally, the order of acquittal shall not be interfered with because the presumption of innocence of the accused is further strengthened by acquittal. The golden thread which runs through the web of administration of justice in criminal cases is that if two views are possible on the evidence adduced in the case, one pointing to the guilt of the accused and the other to his innocence, the view which is favourable to the accused should be adopted.

    The paramount consideration of the Court is to ensure that miscarriage of justice is prevented. No doubt a miscarriage of justice which may arise from acquittal of the guilty is no less than from the conviction of an innocent. In a case where admissible evidence is ignored, a duty is cast upon the appellate Court to re-appreciate the evidence where the accused has been acquitted, for the purpose of ascertaining as to whether any of the accused really committed any offence or not. [See Bhagwan Singh and Ors. v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2002 (2) Supreme 567). 


    The principle to be followed by Appellate Court considering the appeal against the judgment of acquittal is to interfere only when there are compelling and substantial reasons for doing so in order to prevent miscarriage of justice resulting therefrom. If the impugned judgment is clearly unreasonable and relevant and convincing materials have been unjustifiably eliminated in the process, it would be a compelling reason for interference. 

    These aspects were highlighted by this Court in ShivajiSahebraoBobade and Anr. v. State of Maharashtra (AIR 1973 SC 2622), Ramesh BabulalDoshi v. State of Gujarat (1996 (4) Supreme 167), Jaswant Singh v. State of Haryana (2000 (3) Supreme 320), Raj Kishore Jha v. State of Bihar and Ors. (2003 (7) Supreme 152), State of Punjab v.Karnail Singh (2003 (5) Supreme 508), State of Punjab v.Pohla Singh and Anr.(2003 (7) Supreme 17) and Suchand Pal v. Phani Pal and Anr.(JT 2003 (9) SC 17).


    In our view no such error can be said to have been committed by the High Court, nor any other infirmity to undermine the legality and propriety of the findings of the High Court, warranting our interference has been substantiated, in this case.




    14.3. STATE OF HARYANA V. JAGBIR SINGH AND ANR 2003. SUPREME COURT 2003. RD-SC 475 (26 September 2003)'


    Chenga Reddy and Ors. v. State of A.P. (1996) 10 SCC 193, wherein it has been observed thus:


    "In a case based on circumstantial evidence, the settled law is that the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is drawn should be fully proved and such circumstances must be conclusive in nature. Moreover, all the circumstances should be complete and there should be no gap left in the chain of evidence. Further the proved circumstances must be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and totally inconsistent with his innocence....".



    In Padala Veera Reddy v. State of A.P. and Ors. (AIR 1990 SC 79), it was laid down that when a case rests upon circumstantial evidence, such evidence must satisfy the following tests:


    (1) the circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be drawn, must be cogently and firmly established;


    (2) those circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards guilt of the accused;


    (3) the circumstances, taken cumulatively should form a chain so complete that there is no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability the crime was committed by the accused and none else; and 


    (4) the circumstantial evidence in order to sustain conviction must be complete and incapable of explanation of any other hypothesis than that of the guilt of the accused and such evidence should not only be consistent with the guilt of the accused but should be inconsistent with his innocence.


    In State of U.P. v. Ashok Kumar Srivastava, (1992 Crl.LJ 1104), it was pointed out that great care must be taken in evaluating circumstantial evidence and if the evidence relied on is reasonably capable of two inferences, the one in favour of the accused must be accepted. 

    It was also pointed out that the circumstances relied upon must be found to have been fully established and the cumulative effect of all the facts so established must be consistent only with the hypothesis of guilt.


    Sir Alfred Wills in his admirable book "Wills' Circumstantial Evidence" (Chapter VI) lays down the following rules specially to be observed in the case of circumstantial evidence:


    (1) the facts alleged as the basis of any legal inference must be clearly proved and beyond reasonable doubt connected with the factum probandum; 


    (2) the burden of proof is always on the party who asserts the existence of any fact, which infers legal accountability; 


    (3) in all cases, whether of direct or circumstantial evidence the best evidence must be adduced which the nature of the case admits; 


    (4) in order to justify the inference of guilt, the inculpatory facts must be incompatible with the innocence of the accused and incapable of explanation, upon any other reasonable hypothesis than that of his guilt, 


    (5) if there be any reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused, he is entitled as of right to be acquitted".



    There is no doubt that conviction can be based solely on circumstantial evidence but it should be tested by the touch-stone of law relating to circumstantial evidence laid down by the this Court as far back as in 1952.



    In Hanumant Govind Nargundkar and Anr. V. State of Madhya Pradesh, (AIR 1952 SC 343), wherein it was observed thus:


    "It is well to remember that in cases where the evidence is of a circumstantial nature, the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be in the first instance be fully established and all the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused. Again, the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency and they should be such as to exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to be proved. In other words, there must be a chain of evidence so far complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and it must be such as to show that within all human probability the act must have been done by the accused." 



    A reference may be made to a later decision in Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, (AIR 1984 SC 1622). Therein, while dealing with circumstantial evidence, it has been held that onus was on the prosecution to prove that the chain is complete and the infirmity of lacuna in prosecution cannot be cured by false defence or plea. 



    The conditions precedent in the words of this Court, before conviction could be based on circumstantial evidence, must be fully established. They are:



    (1) the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established. The circumstances concerned 'must' or 'should' and not 'may be' established;


    (2) the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty;


    (3) the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency;


    (4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and 


    (5) there must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.





    14.4. STATE OF RAJASTHAN V. RAJA RAM [2003] RD-SC 374 (13 Aug 2003). SUPREME COURT CASES 2003.


    It has been consistently laid down by this Court that where a case rests squarely on circumstantial evidence, the inference of guilt can be justified only when all the incriminating facts and circumstances are found to be incompatible with the innocence of the accused or the guilt of any other person. (See Hukam Singh v. State of Rajasthan AIR (1977 SC 1063); Eradu and Ors. v. State of Hyderabad (AIR 1956 SC 316); Earabhadrappa v. State of Karnataka (AIR 1983 SC 446);

    State of U.P. v. Sukhbasi and Ors. (AIR 1985 SC 1224); Balwinder Singh v. State of Punjab (AIR 1987 SC 350); Ashok Kumar Chatterjee v. State of M.P. (AIR 1989 SC 1890). 

    The circumstances from which an inference as to the guilt of the accused is drawn have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt and have to be shown to be closely connected with the principal fact sought to be inferred from those circumstances. In Bhagat Ram v. State of Punjab (AIR 1954 SC 621), it was laid down that where the case depends upon the conclusion drawn from circumstances the cumulative effect of the circumstances must be such as to negative the innocence of the accused and bring the offences home beyond any reasonable doubt.


    We may also make a reference to a decision of this Court in C.Chenga Reddy and Ors. v. State of A.P. (1996) 10 SCC 193, wherein it has been observed thus:


    "In a case based on circumstantial evidence, the settled law is that the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is drawn should be fully proved and such circumstances must be conclusive in nature. Moreover, all the circumstances should be complete and there should be no gap left in the chain of evidence. Further the proved circumstances must be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and totally inconsistent with his innocence....".


    In Padala Veera Reddy v. State of A.P. and Ors. (AIR 1990 SC 79), it was laid down that when a case rests upon circumstantial evidence, such evidence must satisfy the following tests:



    (1) the circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be drawn, must be cogently and firmly established;


    (2) those circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards guilt of the accused;


    (3) the circumstances, taken cumulatively should form a chain so complete that there is no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability the crime was committed by the accused and none else; and 


    (4) the circumstantial evidence in order to sustain conviction must be complete and incapable of explanation of any other hypothesis than that of the guilt of the accused and such evidence should not only be consistent with the guilt of the accused but should be inconsistent with his innocence.



    In State of U.P. v. Ashok Kumar Srivastava, (1992 Crl.LJ 1104), it was pointed out that great care must be taken in evaluating circumstantial evidence and if the evidence relied on is reasonably capable of two inferences, the one in favour of the accused must be accepted.

    It was also pointed out that the circumstances relied upon must be found to have been fully established and the cumulative effect of all the facts so established must be consistent only with the hypothesis of guilt.


    Sir Alfred Wills in his admirable book "Wills' Circumstantial Evidence" (Chapter VI) lays down the following rules specially to be observed in the case of circumstantial evidence: 


    (1) the facts alleged as the basis of any legal inference must be clearly proved and beyond reasonable doubt connected with the factum probandum; 


    (2) the burden of proof is always on the party who asserts the existence of any fact, which infers legal accountability; 


    (3) in all cases, whether of direct or circumstantial evidence the best evidence must be adduced which the nature of the case admits; 


    (4) in order to justify the inference of guilt, the inculpatory facts must be incompatible with the innocence of the accused and incapable of explanation, upon any other reasonable hypothesis than that of his guilt, 


    (5) if there be any reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused, he is entitled as of right to be acquitted".



    There is no doubt that conviction can be based solely on circumstantial evidence but it should be tested by the touch-stone of law relating to circumstantial evidence laid down by the this Court as far back as in 1952.



    In Hanumant Govind Nargundkar and Anr. V. State of Madhya Pradesh, (AIR 1952 SC 343), wherein it was observed thus:


    "It is well to remember that in cases where the evidence is of a circumstantial nature, the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be in the first instance be fully established and all the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused. Again, the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency and they should be such as to exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to be proved. In other words, there must be a chain of evidence so far complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and it must be such as to show that within all human probability the act must have been done by the accused." 



    A reference may be made to a later decision in Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, (AIR 1984 SC 1622). Therein, while dealing with circumstantial evidence, it has been held that onus was on the prosecution to prove that the chain is complete and the infirmity of lacuna in prosecution cannot be cured by false defence or plea. 



    The conditions precedent in the words of the this Court, before conviction could be based on circumstantial evidence, must be fully established.

    They are:


    (1) the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established.

    The circumstances concerned must or should and not may be established;


    (2) the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty;


    (3) the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency;


    (4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and 


    (5) there must be a chain of evidence so compete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.




    14.5. M/S. NATURALLE HEALTH PRODUCTS (P) LTD. V. COLLECTOR OF CENTRAL EXCISE, HYDERABAD.SUPREME COURT 2003.


    It is unfortunate that an innocent child has lost his life but the crucial question is whether the accused persons were responsible for his death and the prosecution was able to prove its claims beyond reasonable doubt. As stated earlier the case rests on circumstantial evidence.


    It has been consistently laid down by this Court that where a case rests squarely on circumstantial evidence, the inference of guilt can be justified only when all the incriminating facts and circumstances are found to be incompatible with the innocence of the accused or the guilt of any other person. (See Hukam Singh v. State of Rajasthan AIR (1977 SC 1063); Eradu and Ors. v. State of Hyderabad (AIR 1956 SC 316);Earabhadrappa v. State of Karnataka (AIR 1983 SC 446); State of U.P. v. Sukhbasi and Ors. (AIR 1985 SC 1224); Balwinder Singh v. State of Punjab (AIR 1987 SC 350); Ashok Kumar Chatterjee v. State of M.P. (AIR 1989 SC 1890). 


    The circumstances from which an inference as to the guilt of the accused is drawn have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt and have to be shown to be closely connected with the principal fact sought to be inferred from those circumstances. In Bhagat Ram v. State of Punjab (AIR 1954 SC 621), it was laid down that where the case depends upon the conclusion drawn from circumstances the cumulative effect of the circumstances must be such as to negative the innocence of the accused and bring the offences home beyond any reasonable doubt.


    We may also make a reference to a decision of this Court in C. Chenga Reddy and Ors. v. State of A.P. (1996) 10 SCC 193, wherein it has been observed thus:


    "In a case based on circumstantial evidence, the settled law is that the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is drawn should be fully proved and such circumstances must be conclusive in nature. Moreover, all the circumstances should be complete and there should be no gap left in the chain of evidence. Further the proved circumstances must be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and totally inconsistent with his innocence....".


    In Padala Veera Reddy v. State of A.P. and Ors. (AIR 1990 SC 79), it was laid down that when a case rests upon circumstantial evidence, such evidence must satisfy the following tests:


    (1) the circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be drawn, must be cogently and firmly established;


    (2) those circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards guilt of the accused;


    (3) the circumstances, taken cumulatively should form a chain so complete that there is no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability the crime was committed by the accused and none else; and 


    (4) the circumstantial evidence in order to sustain conviction must be complete and incapable of explanation of any other hypothesis than that of the guilt of the accused and such evidence should not only be consistent with the guilt of the accused but should be inconsistent with his innocence.



    In State of U.P. v. Ashok Kumar Srivastava, (1992 Crl.LJ 1104), it was pointed out that great care must be taken in evaluating circumstantial evidence and if the evidence relied on is reasonably capable of two inferences, the one in favour of the accused must be accepted. 

    It was also pointed out that the circumstances relied upon must be found to have been fully established and the cumulative effect of all the facts so established must be consistent only with the hypothesis of guilt.



    Sir Alfred Wills in his admirable book "Wills' Circumstantial Evidence" (Chapter VI) lays down the following rules specially to be observed in the case of circumstantial evidence:


    (1) the facts alleged as the basis of any legal inference must be clearly proved and beyond reasonable doubt connected with the factum probandum; 


    (2) the burden of proof is always on the party who asserts the existence of any fact, which infers legal accountability; 


    (3) in all cases, whether of direct or circumstantial evidence the best evidence must be adduced which the nature of the case admits; 


    (4) in order to justify the inference of guilt, the inculpatory facts must be incompatible with the innocence of the accused and incapable of explanation, upon any other reasonable hypothesis than that of his guilt, 


    (5) if there be any reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused, he is entitled as of right to be acquitted".


    There is no doubt that conviction can be based solely on circumstantial evidence but it should be tested by the touch-stone of law relating to circumstantial evidence laid down by the this Court as far back as in 1952.



    In Hanumant Govind Nargundkar and Anr. V. State of Madhya Pradesh, (AIR 1952 SC 343), wherein it was observed thus:


    "It is well to remember that in cases where the evidence is of a circumstantial nature, the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be in the first instance be fully established and all the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused. Again, the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency and they should be such as to exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to be proved. In other words, there must be a chain of evidence so far complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and it must be such as to show that within all human probability the act must have been done by the accused." 


    A reference may be made to a later decision in Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, (AIR 1984 SC 1622). Therein, while dealing with circumstantial evidence, it has been held that onus was on the prosecution to prove that the chain is complete and the infirmity of lacuna in prosecution cannot be cured by false defence or plea. 



    The conditions precedent in the words of this Court, before conviction could be based on circumstantial evidence, must be fully established. They are:


    (1) the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established. The circumstances concerned 'must' or 'should' and not 'may be' established;


    (2) the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty;


    (3) the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency;


    (4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and 

    (5) there must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.



    These aspects were recently highlighted in State of Rajasthan v.Rajaram (2003 AIR SCW 4097) We shall examine the circumstances highlighted. So far as ransom notes are concerned, prosecution sought to rely upon the report given by the handwriting expert. It appears that the accused was taken before Addl. Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bhiwani. According to him, on 10.9.1991 the accused was brought before him in custody for giving his specimen signature under Section 73 of the Evidence Act. 

    It was noticed by this Court in State of Uttar Pradesh v. Ram Babu Misra AIR 1980 SC 791) that the Chief Judicial Magistrate has no power to direct the accused to give his specimen signature for comparison during investigation. Section 73 of the Evidence Act reads as follows:


    "Section 73- Comparison of signature, writing or seal with others admitted or proved: In order to ascertain whether a signature, writing, or seal is that of the person by whom it purports to have been written or made, any signature, writing, or seal admitted or proved to the satisfaction of the Court to have been written or made by that person may be compared with the one which is to be proved, although that signature, writing, or seal has not been produced or proved for any other purpose.


    The Court may direct any person present in court to write any words or figures for the purpose of enabling the Court to compare the words or figures so written with any words or figures alleged to have been written by such person.





    14.6. MANJUNATH CHENNABASAPA MADALLI V. STATE OF KARNATAKA [2007] RD-SC 155 (19 February 2007).

    SUPREME COURT 2007.




    It has been consistently laid down by this Court that where a case rests squarely on circumstantial evidence, the inference of guilt can be justified only when all the incriminating facts and circumstances are found to be incompatible with the innocence of the accused or the guilt of any other person. (See Hukam Singh v. State of Rajasthan AIR (1977 SC 1063); Eradu and Ors. v. State of Hyderabad (AIR 1956 SC 316); Earabhadrappa v. State of Karnataka (AIR 1983 SC 446); State of U.P. v. Sukhbasi and Ors. (AIR 1985 SC 1224); Balwinder Singh v. State of Punjab (AIR 1987 SC 350); Ashok Kumar Chatterjee v. State of M.P. (AIR 1989 SC 1890). 



    The circumstances from which an inference as to the guilt of the accused is drawn have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt and have to be shown to be closely connected with the principal fact sought to be inferred from those circumstances. In Bhagat Ram v. State of Punjab (AIR 1954 SC 621), it was laid down that where the case depends upon the conclusion drawn from circumstances the cumulative effect of the circumstances must be such as to negative the innocence of the accused and bring the offences home beyond any reasonable doubt.



    We may also make a reference to a decision of this Court in C. Chenga Reddy and Ors. v. State of A.P. (1996) 10 SCC 193, wherein it has been observed thus:


    "In a case based on circumstantial evidence, the settled law is that the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is drawn should be fully proved and such circumstances must be conclusive in nature. Moreover, all the circumstances should be complete and there should be no gap left in the chain of evidence. Further the proved circumstances must be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and totally inconsistent with his innocence....".


    In Padala Veera Reddy v. State of A.P. and Ors. (AIR 1990 SC 79), it was laid down that when a case rests upon circumstantial evidence, such evidence must satisfy the following tests:



    (1) the circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be drawn, must be cogently and firmly established;


    (2) those circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards guilt of the accused;


    (3) the circumstances, taken cumulatively should form a chain so complete that there is no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability the crime was committed by the accused and none else; and


     (4) the circumstantial evidence in order to sustain conviction must be complete and incapable of explanation of any other hypothesis than that of the guilt of the accused and such evidence should not only be consistent with the guilt of the accused but should be inconsistent with his innocence.


    In State of U.P. v. Ashok Kumar Srivastava, (1992 Crl.LJ 1104), it was pointed out that great care must be taken in evaluating circumstantial evidence and if the evidence relied on is reasonably capable of two inferences, the one in favour of the accused must be accepted. It was also pointed out that the circumstances relied upon must be found to have been fully established and the cumulative effect of all the facts so established must be consistent only with the hypothesis of guilt.


    Sir Alfred Wills in his admirable book "Wills' Circumstantial Evidence" (Chapter VI) lays down the following rules specially to be observed in the case of circumstantial evidence:


     (1) the facts alleged as the basis of any legal inference must be clearly proved and beyond reasonable doubt connected with the factum probandum;


     (2) the burden of proof is always on the party who asserts the existence of any fact, which infers legal accountability; 


    (3) in all cases, whether of direct or circumstantial evidence the best evidence must be adduced which the nature of the case admits; 


    (4) in order to justify the inference of guilt, the inculpatory facts must be incompatible with the innocence of the accused and incapable of explanation, upon any other reasonable hypothesis than that of his guilt, 


    (5) if there be any reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused, he is entitled as of right to be acquitted".



    There is no doubt that conviction can be based solely on circumstantial evidence but it should be tested by the touch- stone of law relating to circumstantial evidence laid down by the this Court as far back as in 1952.

    In Hanumant Govind Nargundkar and Anr. V. State of Madhya Pradesh, (AIR 1952 SC 343), wherein it was observed thus:


    "It is well to remember that in cases where the evidence is of a circumstantial nature, the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be in the first instance be fully established and all the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused. Again, the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency and they should be such as to exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to be proved. In other words, there must be a chain of evidence so far complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and it must be such as to show that within all human probability the act must have been done by the accused."



    A reference may be made to a later decision in Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, (AIR 1984 SC 1622). Therein, while dealing with circumstantial evidence, it has been held that onus was on the prosecution to prove that the chain is complete and the infirmity of lacuna in prosecution cannot be cured by false defence or plea. 


    The conditions precedent in the words of this Court, before conviction could be based on circumstantial evidence, must be fully established. They are:


    (1) the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established. The circumstances concerned 'must' or 'should' and not 'may be' established;


    (2) the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty;


    (3) the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency;


    (4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and 

    (5) there must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.


    These aspects were highlighted in State of Rajasthan v.Rajaram (2003 (8) SCC 180) and State of Haryana v. Jagbir Singh (2003 (11) SCC 261).



    In the instant case, the only circumstance which was highlighted by the trial Court and the High Court was that there was unnatural death and additionally the so called dying declaration purported to have been recorded by the then Tehsildar (PW-16). 



    The mere fact that the deceased had died an unnatural death cannot by itself be a circumstance against the accused particularly when Section 498-A has been held to be inapplicable. Additionally, the conclusion that there was dying declaration is also not factually correct. 



    The trial Court itself has referred to the evidence of PW-16 who categorically stated that though he was requested to record the dying declaration the same could not be recorded as the doctor was of the opinion that the deceased was not in a fit condition to give her statement. 

    Thereafter, no statement was recorded. In fact he was called to attend the inquest.


    Above being the position the conviction as recorded by the trial Court and upheld by the High Court is indefensible and is set aside.





    14.7. SIVAN, S/O. CHATHAN v. STATE OF KERALA - CRL A No. 147 of 2004(C) [2007] RD-KL 2133 (30 January 2007). HIGH COURT 2007.



    The Apex Court in Sharad v. State of Maharashtra (AIR 1984 SC 1622) described five principles for convicting an accused on the basis of circumstantial evidence which are as follows: 


    1) the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established, as distinguished from `may be' established. 


    2) the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty;  Crl.A.147/2004 3 


    3) the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature;


    4) they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and 


    5) there must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused. It is well settled principle that unlike direct evidence, indirect circumstances which throw light, should lead from suspicion to certitude and care must be taken to avoid subjective pitfalls of exaggerating a conjecture into a conviction. 


    Trial Court relied on four circumstances: 


    (1) Motive; 
    (2) Last seen together;
    (3) Recovery of material objects at the instance of the accused; and 
    (4) Statement of the accused before the doctor. 


    Since conviction is based on circumstantial evidence, we are considering the evidence adduced by the witnesses to find out whether the above circumstances were proved and proved circumstances would lead only to the hypothesis that accused is guilty and nobody else. Crl.A.147/2004 4


    Even in cases based on circumstantial evidence, Crl.A.147/2004 10 failure to prove motive by itself is not fatal to the prosecution when there are otherwise possible circumstances which conclusively establish the guilt. 

    However, if motive is proved, that itself supply a chain of link, but, absence of the above is not a ground to reject the entire prosecution case as held by the Supreme Court in State of Gujarat v. Anirudhsing (AIR 1997 SC 2780). 

    But, motive cannot by itself sustain a criminal charge although proof of motive may add credence to other evidence adduced in the case. As held by the Apex Court in State of MP v. Paltan Mallah ((2005) 3 SCC 169)motive by itself is not sufficient to prove the guilt. Here, alleged motive was not proved. 


    We have already seen that recovery cannot be believed and the alleged recovery of MO6 shirt or MO7 series of ashes will not connect accused with the crime. Prosecution was also not able to prove that deceased was seen alive last with the accused within a proximal time by a credible witness.




    14.8. SHARAD BIRDHI CHAND SARDA VS STATE OF MAHARASHTRA. SUPREME COURT CASES 1984.


    However, where various links in a chain are in themselves complete, then a false plea or a false defence may be called into aid only to lend assurance to the Court. In other words before using the additional link it must be proved that all the links in the chain are complete and do not suffer from any infirmity.

    It is not the law that where there is any infirmity or lacuna in the prosecution case the same could be cured or supplied by a false defence or a plea which is not accepted by a Court. [162C-E] 3:2. Before a false explanation can be used as additional link, the following essential conditions must be satisfied: [165E]


    1. Various links in the chain of evidence led by the prosecution have been satisfactorily proved; [165E]


    2. The said circumstance point to the guilt of the accused with reasonable definiteness and; [165G]


    3. The circumstances is in proximity to the time and situation.[165H] If these conditions are fulfilled only then a Court can use a false explanation or a false defence as an additional link to lend as assurance to the Court and not otherwise. On the facts and circumstances of the present case this does not appear to be such a case. 

    There is a vital difference between an incomplete chain of circumstances and a circumstance, which, after the chain is complete, is added to it merely to reinforce the conclusion of the court. 


    Where the prosecution is enable to prove any of the essential principles laid down in Hanumant's case the High Court cannot supply the weakness or the lacuna by taking aid of or recourse to a false defence or a false plea. [166A; 166D-E] 92 3:3. 


    Before a case against an accused vesting on circumstantial evidence can be said to be fully established the following conditions must be fulfilled as laid down in Hanumat's v. State of M.P. [1953] SCR 1091. [163C]


    1. The circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established; [163D]


    2. The facts so established should be consistent with the hypothesis of guilt and the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty; [163G]


    3. The circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency;[163G]


    4. They should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and [163H]


    5. There must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused. [164B]


    These five golden principles constitute the panchsheel of the proof of a case based on circumstantial evidence and in the absence of a corpus deliciti. [164B] Hanumant v. The State of Madhya Pradesh [1952] SCR 1091; Tufail (Alias) Simmi v. State of Uttar Pradesh [1969] 3 SCC 198; Ramgopal v. State of Maharashtra AIR 1972 SC 656;and Shivaji Sahabrao Babode & Anr. v. State of Maharashtra [1973] 2 SCC 793 referred to.


    3:4. The cardinal principle of criminal jurisprudence is that a case can be said to be proved only when there is certain and explicit evidence and no pure moral conviction.



    [164F] The King v. Horry [1952] N.Z.L.R. III quoted with approval.


    In other words, the prosecution has not fulfilled the essential requirements of a criminal case which rests purely on circumstantial evidence; 

    (ii) From the recital in the letters Ex. P30, Ex-P32 and Ex-P33 it can be safely held 96 that there was a clear possibility and a tendency on the part of the deceased Manju to commit suicide due to desperation and frustration. She seems to be tried of her married life, but she still hoped against hope that things might improve. She solemnly believed that her holy union with her husband bring health and happiness to her but unfortunately it seems to have ended in a melancholy marriage which left her so lonely and frustrated so much of emotional disorder resulting from frustration and pessimism that she was forced to end her life. 

    There can be no doubt that Manju was not only a sensitive and sentimental women was extremely impressionate and the letters show that a constant conflict between her mind and body was going on and unfortunately the circumstances which came into existence hastened her end. People with such a psychotic philosophy or bent of mind always dream of an ideal and if the said ideals fails, the failure drives them to end their life, for they feel that no charm is left in their life; 

    (iii) The prosecution has miserably failed to prove one of the most essential ingredients of a case of death caused by administration of poison i.e.. possession with the accused (either by direct or circumstantial evidence) and on this ground alone the prosecution must fails. 

    (iv) That is appreciating the evidence, the High Court has clearly misdirected itself on many points, and has thus committed a gross error of law; 

    (iv) That the High Court has relied upon decisions of this Court which are either in applicable or which, on closer examination, do not support the view of the High Court being clearly distinguishable; 

    (vi) That the High Court has taken a completely wrong view of law in holding that even though the prosecution may suffer from serious infirmities it could be reinforced by additional link in the nature of false defence in order to supply the lacuna and has thus committed a fundamental error or law; 

    (vii) That the High Court has not only misappreciated the evidence but has completely overlooked the well established principles of law and has merely tried to accept the prosecution case based on tenterhooks and slender tits and bits; 

    (viii) It is wholly unsafe to rely on that part of the evidence of Dr.Banerjee (PW 33) which shows that poison was forcibly administered by the process of mechanical suffociation; 

    (ix) There is no manifest defect in the investigation made by the police which appears to be honest and careful. A proof positive of this fact is that even though Rameshwar Birdichand and other members of his family who had practically no role to play had been arraigned as accused but they had to be acquitted by the High Court for lack of legal evidence; 

    (x) That in view of the findings two views are clearly possible in the present case, the question of defence being false does not arise. [172E-H; 173A-H; 174A-D] Per Varadarajan, J.(Per contra on facts.)


    The law regarding the nature and character of proof of circumstantial evidence has been settled by several authorities of this Court as also of the High Courts, The locus classicus of the decision of this Court is the one rendered in the case of Hanumant v. The State of Madhya Pradesh where Mahajan, J. clearly expounded the various concomitants of the proof of a case based purely on circumstantial evidence, and pointed out thus:


    "The circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency and they should be such as to exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to be proved..... it must be such as to show that within all human probability the act must have been done by the accused." 



    This decision was followed and endorsed by this Court in the case of Dharambir Singh v. The State of Punjab. We shall however discuss Hanumant's case fully in a later part of our judgment. Coming now to the question of interpretation of sec. 32(1) of The Evidence Act, this Court in the case of Ratan Gond v. State of Bihar S.K. Das, J. made the following observations:


    102 "The only relevant clause of s. 32 which may be said to have any bearing is cl.(1) which relates to statements made by a person as to the cause of his death or as to any of the circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his death. In the case before us, the statements made by Aghani do not relate to the cause of her death or to any of the circumstances relating to her death; on the contrary, the statements relate to the death of her sister." 

    In the 'Law of Evidence' by Woodroffe & Ameer Ali (Vol.II) the authors have collected all the cases at one place and indicated their conclusions thus:


    "To sum up, the test of the relevancy of a statement under Section 32(1), is not what the final finding in the case is but whether the final finding in the case is but whether the cause of the death of the person making the statement comes into question in the case.


    The expression 'any of the Circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his death'; is wider in scope than the expression 'the cause of his death'; in other words, Clause (1) of Section 32 refers to two kinds of statements: (1) statement made by a person as to the cause of his death, and (2) the statement made by a person as to any of the circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his death.


    The leading decision on this question, which has been endorsed by this Court, is the case of Pakala Narayana Swami v. Emperor where Lord Atkin has laid down the following tests:


    "It has been suggested that the statement must be made after the transaction has taken place, that the person making it must be at any rate near death, that the "circumstances" can only include the acts done when and 104 where the death was caused. Their Lordships are of opinion that the natural meaning of the words used does not convey any of these limitations. The statement may be made before the cause of death has arisen, or before the deceased has any reason to anticipate being killed.


    The circumstances must be circumstances of the transaction: general expressions indicating fear or suspicion whether of a particular individual or otherwise and not directly related to the occasion of the death will not be admissible----------- Circumstances of the transaction" is a phrase no doubt that conveys some limitations. It is not as broad as the analogous use in "circumstantial evidence" which includes evidence of all relevant facts. It is on the other hand narrower than "res gestae". 


    Circumstances must have some proximate relation to the actual occurrence. ----------It will be observed that "the circumstances are of the transaction which resulted in the death of the declarant." These principles were followed and fully endorsed by a decision of this Court in Shiv Kumar & Ors v. The State of Uttar Pradesh where the following observations were made:


    "It is clear that if the statement of the deceased is to be admissible under this section it must be a statement relating to the circumstances of the transaction resulting in his death. The statement may be made before the cause of death has arisen, or before the deceased has any reason to anticipate being killed,---------A necessary condition of admissibility under the section is that the circumstance must have some proximate relation to the actual occurrence------- ---- The phrase "circumstances of the transaction" is a phrase that no doubt conveys some limitations. It is not as broad as the analogous use in "circumstantial evidence" which includes evidence of all relevant facts. It is on the other hand narrower than "res gestae" (See Pakala Narayana Swami v. The King Emperor AIR 1939 PC 47).




    14.9. BHALARAM V STATE - CRLA CASE NO. 1079 OF 2001 [2006] RD-RJ 56 (9 JANUARY 2006). HIGH COURT

    In a case of circumstantial evidence, the circumstances relied on by the prosecution, should encircle the accused leaving no scope or possibility for the accused to escape from the said circle. For this, there should be no crack or snap in the chain of events of circumstances. Even if one link is broken, then the possibility comes, automatically, for the accused to escape through that gap.


    In a case of circumstantial evidence the motive should play prominent and predominant role though it may not be so essential, where ocular evidence is available in plenty. It is the case of the prosecution, that the accused had illicit intimacy with the wife of PW1, and the same was noticed by him also. PW1 would state that he suspected the fidelity of his wife, since his wife returned with his brother in the same bus, though he left her at Ramuudayanur village for performing the 'nombu'. 

    He would further state, that in the month of 'Adi' he has seen the accused and Pushpa lying together in a compromising mood. If this is the fact, what should be the natural reaction of a husband, is the question. The answer should be, he ought to have reacted and assaulted the accused or attempted to assault the accused and the wife, also questioning their conduct. Admittedly it is not happened, whereas a theory of panchayat is introduced, which appears to be highly unnatural. 

    This theory was not disclosed to the Investigating Officer also when P.W.1 was examined, thereby showing that this must be an after thought. According to PW1 he convened a panchayat, which was attended to by PW4 and PW5. In the panchayat, it seems Pushpa has not supported the accused and therefore, it is the case of the prosecution, the accused has been aggrieved and decided to commit murder. The reasoning given so, appears to be flimsy and unnatural in our view. If the accused and the deceased had illicit intimacy, then Pushpa would not have disclosed the same before the panchayat and she would have taken all possible steps generally to save her paramour. 

    Even assuming that Pushpa failed to support the accused, the grievance of the accused must be against his brother-PW1, since he alone took the accused before the panchayatdars, thereby reducing his image since it is said panchayatdars imposed fine. Therefore, the evidence given by PWs.1, 4 and 5 that the accused warned Pushpa, even before the panchayatdars, appears to be some what unnatural and unacceptable to us. 

    In this view, we conclude that this motive part alleged by the prosecution is flimsy and unacceptable. Assuming that the oral evidence of PW1 could be accepted, supported by PW4 and PW5, in our opinion, the motive is not connected with the subsequent events, and therefore, proof of motive alone will not take us to the irresistible conclusion, that the accused would have committed the murder of Pushpa, since we find so many grey area in the case of the prosecution, unexplained and unsupported by any acceptable evidence.


    About the circumstantial evidence, the law is well settled that unless the chain of circumstantial evidence is so established in an unbroken manner by the prosecution that no link is found to be missing in the said chain of circumstantial evidence, the accused cannot be convicted merely on the basis of such circumstantial evidence and offence cannot be said to have been proved beyond reasonable doubt by the accused and he cannot be punished. 

    The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the State of U.P. Vs. Hari Mohan (2000) 8 SCC,598 propounded that where the evidence against the accused, particularly when he is charged with a grave offence like murder consists of only circumstances, it must be qualitatively such that on every reasonable hypothesis the conclusion must be that the accused is guilty: not fantastic possibilities nor freak inferences but rational deductions which reasonable minds make from the probative force of facts and circumstances.


    When the case is based on circumstantial evidence, the following three tests should be satisfied:-


    (i)       the circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be drawn, must be cogently and firmly established;


    (ii)            those circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards the guilt of the accused;


    (iii)        the circumstances, taken cumulatively, should form a chain so complete that there is no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability the crime was committed by the accused and none else.



    This court in its Judgment dated 16.11.2005 in State of Rajasthan Vs. Gopal and Gopal Vs. State of Rajasthan

    (DB Cr.Death Reference No.2/05 and DB Cr.Jail Appeal No.846/05) held as under:


    "The standard of proof required to convict a person on circumstantial evidence is now well established by a series of decision of the Hon'ble Supreme Court. According to that standard of circumstances relied upon in support of the conviction must be fully established and the chain of evidence furnished by those circumstances must be so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused. The circumstances from which the conclusion of the guilt is to be drawn have not only to be fully established but also that all the circumstances so established should be of a conclusive nature and consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and should not be capable of being explained by any other hypothesis, except the guilt of the accused and when all the circumstances cumulatively taken together should lead to the only irresistible conclusion that the accused alone is the perpetrator of the crime."



    Thus, in view of aforesaid position of law, there is no doubt that burden of prosecution in the cases depending on circumstantial evidence is much greater and no missing link or even a weak link giving rise to doubt in the mind of court can be fatal for the prosecution.


    Viewed from this angle, from the perusal of record of the present case, and the statements of various prosecution witnesses, it appears to be improbable to us that the appellant Bhala Ram might have committed the said crime of rape and murder of Smt.Pushpa, and in our considered view, the prosecution has failed to establish all the circumstantial evidence in the form of unbroken chain of evidence, and therefore, in the circumstances of the case, the appellant deserves to be given benefit of doubt in the present case. 

    His mere presence in the agriculture field of deceased Smt.Pushpa, and giving of maize (Bhuttas) to 2-3 persons, is not sufficient to convict him for the alleged offence under Secs. 302, 376 and 379 IPC, and his presence even after the incident in the nearby fields casts serious doubt on his involvement in the said crime. Therefore, this court is of the view that the present appeal deserves to be allowed and the impugned Judgment of learned Addl. Sessions Judge, Kekri (Ajmer) convicting the said appellant under Sec. 302, 376 and 379 IPC deserves to be set aside.


    For these reasons, we allow the appeal of the appellant and set aside the impugned judgment. We acquit the appellant of the charges under Section 302, 376 and 379 IPC. Appellant Bhala Ram, who is in jail, shall be set at liberty forthwith if not required to be detained in any other case.





    14.10. STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH V. SANJAY RAI. 2004.SUPREME COURT. RD-SC 199 (25 March 2004).




    It has been consistently laid down by this Court that where a case rests squarely on circumstantial evidence, the inference of guilt can be justified only when all the incriminating facts and circumstances are found to be incompatible with the innocence of the accused or the guilt of any other person. (See Hukam Singh v. State of Rajasthan AIR (1977 SC 1063); Eradu and Ors. v. State of Hyderabad (AIR 1956 SC 316); Earabhadrappa v. State of Karnataka (AIR 1983 SC 446); State of U.P. v. Sukhbasi and Ors. (AIR 1985 SC 1224); Balwinder Singh v. State of Punjab (AIR 1987 SC 350); Ashok Kumar Chatterjee v. State of M.P. (AIR 1989 SC 1890). 

    The circumstances from which an inference as to the guilt of the accused is drawn have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt and have to be shown to be closely connected with the principal fact sought to be inferred from those circumstances. In Bhagat Ram v. State of Punjab (AIR 1954 SC 621), it was laid down that where the case depends upon the conclusion drawn from circumstances the cumulative effect of the circumstances must be such as to negative the innocence of the accused and bring the offences home beyond any reasonable doubt.


    We may also make a reference to a decision of this Court in C. Chenga Reddy and Ors. v. State of A.P. (1996 (10) SCC 193), wherein it has been observed thus:


    "In a case based on circumstantial evidence, the settled law is that the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is drawn should be fully proved and such circumstances must be conclusive in nature. Moreover, all the circumstances should be complete and there should be no gap left in the chain of evidence. Further the proved circumstances must be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and totally inconsistent with his innocence....".



    In PadalaVeera Reddy v. State of A.P. and Ors. (AIR 1990 SC 79), it was laid down that when a case rests upon circumstantial evidence, such evidence must satisfy the following tests:


    (1) the circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be drawn, must be cogently and firmly established;


    (2) those circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards guilt of the accused;


    (3) the circumstances, taken cumulatively should form a chain so complete that there is no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability the crime was committed by the accused and none else; and 

    (4) the circumstantial evidence in order to sustain conviction must be complete and incapable of explanation of any other hypothesis than that of the guilt of the accused and such evidence should not only be consistent with the guilt of the accused but should be inconsistent with his innocence.




    14.11. PUNJAB & HARYANA HIGH COURT IN CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 291 OF 1973. 


    The circumstances of this case undoubtedly create suspicion against the accused. Suspicion, by itself, however strong it may be, is not sufficient to take the place of proof and warrant a finding of guilt of the accused. Another weakness of the prosecution case is that as 752 many as four persons have been involved in this case. Even if it may be assumed that the dead bodies which were recovered from the place in front of the house of the accused were those of Harbans Singh and Bachan Singh deceased and that their death was homicidal, it is difficult to say whether the dastardly crime was the act of one or two culprits or of a larger number of them. In any case it is difficult to fix their identity.”





    14.11. O. P. VARMA, THE APPELLANT. O. P. RANA, THE RESPONDENT). ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT 1966.


    This Court undoubtedly does not normally proceed to review and reappraise for itself the evidence in criminal cases when hearing appeals under Art. 136. But when the judgment under appeal has resulted in grave miscarriage of justice by some misapprehension or mistake in the reading of evidence or by ignoring material evidence, then it is not only empowered but is expected to interfere to promote the cause of justice. Article- 136 is worded in very wide terms and the power conferred by it is not hedged in by any technical hurdles. 

    This over-riding and exceptional power has been vested in this Court to be exercised sparingly and only in furtherance of the cause of justice. In the present case which depends only on circumstantial evidence, the courts below have completely ignored the warming given by this Court in Hanumant v. The State of Madhya Pradesh (1) against the danger of conjectures and suspicions taking the place of proof. The caution was reiterated thus :


    "It is well to remember that in cases where the evidence of a circumstantial nature, the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should in the first instance be fully established, and all the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused. Again the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency and they should be such as to exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to be proved. In other words, there must be a chain of evidence so far complete is not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and it must be such as to show that within all human probability the act-, must have been done by the accused." (pp.1097-8).


    Of course, the evidence on basic or primary facts has to be approached in the ordinary practical way but the conclusions in the case of circumstantial evidence must necessarily point only to the guilt of the accused excluding any reasonable possibility of his innocence. 

    We are not satisfied that the evidence against the appellant in this case satisfies this test. The appeal accordingly succeeds.

    The order of the court below as against the appellant is set aside and the appellant acquitted.







    14.12. BHALINDER SINGH VS. STATE OF PUNJAB 1993. SUPREME COURT CASES 1993.


    6. So far as the circumstantial evidence is concerned, we find not only that none of the circumstances have been established beyond a reasonable doubt but also that all the circumstances, even taken together, do not lead only to the hypothesis of the guilt of the appellant and are not inconsistent with the theory of his innocence. We proceed to give our reasons for this opinion.


    7. Though, according to the prosecution, the father of the deceased, Kaka Singh PW 2, lodged the first information report on July 13, 1986 and we also have it from the evidence of PW 19, ASI Mukhtiar Singh 10 that between July 5, 1986 and July 13, 1986 no one had given him any information about the missing of Tarsem Singh, deceased or the occurrence, yet during his cross-examination, PW 2 Kaka Singh admitted that the police had started search for his missing son on July 9, 1986. 

    Prosecution has been unable to explain how the police started the search for the deceased on July 9, 1986, if no information whatsoever either about the missing of the deceased or the commission of any offence relating to the deceased had been brought to the notice of the ASI Mukhtiar Singh between July 5, 1986 and July 13, 1986. Obviously, the investigating officer has tried to conceal 729 certain facts which expose tainted nature of the investigation. 

    That apart, during his cross-examination, Babu Singh PW 8 deposed that he had seen the appellant along with his co-accused behind the bars at the police station on July 8, 1986 at about 9/10 a.m. There is no explanation from the prosecution side about this testimony. The testimony of Kaka Singh PW 2, who admitted that he had been to the police station twice after July 8, 1986 and that on July 9, 1986, the police started search for his son when considered with the evidence of Harbhagwan PW 4, Gurmail Singh PW 5, Devi Dayal PW 6 and Babu Singh PW 8, and the evidence of the investigating officer Mukhtiar Singh PW 19 has created an impression on our minds that the prosecution has not come out with all the facts and the evidence on the record conceals more than what it reveals. 

    Thus, the circumstance of 'last seen together' has not been established and is even otherwise not sufficient to connect the appellant with the crime. No explanation has been furnished by the prosecution for the silence of PW 4, PW 5, PW 6 and PW 8 till after the body was recovered even though they all belong to the same village and are known to the family of the deceased.

    8. We are also not impressed with the alleged circumstance relating to the extrajudicial confession allegedly made by the appellant before PW 12 Parampal Singh, Sarpanch of the village on July 16, 1986. It is admitted by PW 12 that he had contested the election, during the Gram Panchayat elections, against the cousin of the appellant who however, had got defeated. He also admitted that he did not attend the cremation of the deceased or even participate in the Bhog ceremony held on July 17, 1986. PW 12 admitted that he did not have any friendly relations with the family of the appellant, because they belonged to two rival parties. In this state of affairs, we find it difficult to accept that the accused would have gone to PW 12 who was inimically deposed towards his family to make an extrajudicial confession. 

    This circumstance, therefore, in our opinion has not been established beyond a reasonable doubt and we cannot place any reliance on the same.


    9. So far as the recovery of the pair of shoes is concerned, it appears to be a very clumsy piece of evidence.


    According to the investigating officer, the shoes were recovered pursuant to a disclosure statement made by the appellant, Exhibit PW 12/C, from the bushes near the mosque in the village and those shoes were taken into possession vide recovery memo Exhibit PW 12/F. The shoes were made into a parcel and sealed and deposited in the Malkhana by the Head Constable, Mohinder Singh. Kaka Singh PW 2, however identified the shoes at the police station. It is interesting to note his deposition in his behalf. He stated:


    "In 9/86, I went to P.S. Mulepur where SI was sitting. Sarpanch of Village Patarsi also came in that room. ASI Mukhtiar Singh asked me to identify the pair of shoes of my son from amongst 3-4 other pairs of shoes. All the pairs of shoes were lying in the office room of SI/SHO. Nobody was present when I entered the room of SI/SHO to identify the shoes. I identified the shoes of my son in the presence of Sarpanch of Village Patarsi. (At this stage a pair of shoes has been taken out of a 730 piece of cloth and witness says that these shoes i.e. this pair of Juti Ex P. 6/1-2 pertained to his son Tarsem Singh deceased. (Parcel out of which this pair of Juti has been taken out now is not sealed and it was lying open from its mouth)."


    10. The above statement of Kaka Singh PW 2, exposes the hollowness of the recovery and we have no hesitation to say that the circumstance relating to the recovery of the shoes has not only not been established but also that the investigating officer appears to have fabricated this evidence and created false clues. We rule it out of consideration.


    11. The recovery of empty bottles and the glass, without any finger prints either of the deceased or the accused on those bottles is hardly of any consequence and we need not detain ourselves to examine that circumstance in any detail.


    12. So far as the last piece of circumstantial evidence about the alleged false explanation of the appellant is concerned, suffice it to say that it cannot be used against the appellant, not only for the reason that it was not put to him in his statement recorded under Section 313 CrPC but also for the reasons that the mere false explanation, assuming that it was given by the appellant, cannot become basis for conviction of the appellant. The prosecution has to establish its case and stand on its own legs. Weakness of the defence cannot be used as a circumstance in favour of the prosecution.


    13. Thus, we find that none of the circumstances relied upon by the prosecution have been established in the case beyond a reasonable doubt and the chain of the circumstantial evidence is so incomplete that it cannot justify the conviction of the appellant at all. The courts below were clearly in error in accepting the circumstantial evidence and convicting appellant on the basis of such flimsy evidence. We accordingly accept this appeal and set aside the conviction and sentence of the appellant and acquit him of all the charges.




    14.13. FRANCIS @ PAPPACHAN, CONVICT NO.568 VERSUS STATE OF KERALA. HIGH COURT 2004.


    For convicting a CRL.A.NO.834 OF 2004 9 person n the basis of evidence or circumstances should be proved leaving no doubt and only conclusion possible from the evidence is that accused alone is guilty and nobody else is guilty. 


    Mere suspicious circumstances alone is not enough to convict a person guilty of murder. It is true that commission of offence can be proved by circumstantial evidence. But as held by the Apex Court in Balwinder Singh v. State of Punjab (AIR 1996 SC 607) that in a case based on circumstantial evidence the court has to be on its guard to avoid the danger of being swayed by emotional considerations. 


    For convicting the accused generally on the basis of circumstantial evidence, court should be satisfied that all the links in the chain are complete and the only hypothesis possible on the basis of the evidence adduced is that accused and the accused alone is guilty of the offence. (See C.K.Raveendran v. State of Kerala (JT 1999 (9) SC 408) and Jaswant Singh v. State (Delhi Admn) (AIR 1979 SC 190). Circumstantial evidence should not only be consistent with the guilt of the accused but should also be inconsistent with his innocence as held by the CRL.A.NO.834 OF 2004 10 Apex Court in Mangaleshwari v. State of Bihar (AIR 1954 SC 715). 


    It has been repeatedly held by the Supreme Court that the distinction between 'may be true' and 'must be true' is long and divides vague conjectures from sure consideration and each link must be established clear and unobjecting circumstances. In State of Kerala v. Ramachandran (1999 (3) KLT 512), Chief Justice Arijit Pasayat (as he then was) observed for the Bench as follows:


    It is settled principle of law that the circumstances relied upon by the prosecution must be fully established, and the chain of evidence furnished by those circumstances should be fully complete so as not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused. In a case of circumstantial evidence not only various links of evidence should clearly establish guilt of the accused, but also it must be such as to rule out a reasonable likelihood of the innocence of the accused." 


    The Apex Court in Sharad v. State of Maharashtra (AIR 1984 SC 1622) described five principles for convicting an accused on the basis of circumstantial evidence which are as CRL.A.NO.834 OF 2004 11 follows:


    1. the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully established, as distinguished from 'may be' established.


    2. the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty;


    3. the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature.


    4. they should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved; and


    5. there must be a chain of evidence so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused. It is well settled principle that unlike direct evidence, indirect  CRL.A.NO.834 OF 2004 12 circumstances which throw light, should lead from suspicion to certitude and care must be taken to avoid subjective pitfalls of exaggerating a conjecture into a conviction. In this case such consistent circumstances are absent. 


    Prosecution failed to prove that accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. In any event, appellant/accused is entitled to the benefit of reasonable doubt. Hence, his conviction and sentence are set aside. The accused is acquitted. The appellant/accused should be set free forthwith unless his custody is required in any other case. 



    14.14. S. P. BHATNAGAR V. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA [1979] RD-SC 2 (4 January 1979). SUPREME COURT CASES 1979.



    HELD: 1. An analysis of the circumstantial evidence adduced by the prosecution did not lead to the unerring certainty that the appellants acted with any dishonest or corrupt motive or abused their position. [904 F]


    2. (a) It is well settled that abuse of position, in order to come within the mischief of s. 5(1)(d) of the Act, must necessarily be dishonest so that it may be proved that the accused caused deliberate loss to the department.


    Further it is for the prosecution to prove affirmatively that the accused, by corrupt or illegal means or by abusing his position, obtained any pecuniary advantage for some other person. [892 G; 893 A].


    (b) Again, the fundamental rule relating to the proof of guilt based on circumstantial evi

    dence is that there is always danger that conjecture or suspicion might take the place of legal proof. In such cases the mind is apt to take a pleasure in adapting circumstances to one another and even in straining them a 876 little, if need be to force them to form parts of one connected whole and the more ingenious the mind of the individual the more likely it is, in considering such matters, to over-reach and mislead itself to supply some little link that is wanting, to take for granted some fact consistent with its previous theories and necessary to render them complete. [893 B-D].


    (c) In cases where the evidence is of a circumstantial nature, the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should in the first instance be fully established, and all the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused. Again, the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and should be such as to exclude every hypothesis but the one proposed to be proved. In other words there must be a chain of evidence so far complete as not to give any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and it must be such as to show that within all human probability the act must have been done by the accused. [893 D-F].


    M. Narayanana Nambiar v. State of Kerala, [1963] Supp. 2 SCR 724; Major S. K. Kale v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1977 SC 822; Hanumant Govind Nergundkar v. State of M.P., [1952] SCR 1091, AIR 1952 SC 343; Palvinder Kaur v. State of Punjab, [1953] SCR 94: AIR 1952 SC 354; Charan Singh v. State of U.P., AIR 1967 SC 529; referred to.


    (d) The principle that inculpatory fact must be inconsistent with the innocence of the accused and incapable of explanation on any other hypothesis than that of guilt does not mean that any extravagant hypothesis would be sufficient to sustain the principle, but that the hypothesis suggested must be reasonable. [893 G].Govinda Reddy v. State of Mysore, AIR 1960 SC 29;referred to.




    14.15. TUKA RAM & ANR V. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA [1978] RD-SC 176 (15 September 1978). SUPREME COURT CASES 1978.



    HELD : 1. The onus is always on the prosecution to prove affirmatively each ingredient of the offence. It was therefore, incumbent on the prosecution to prove all the ingredients of Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. The High Court has not given a finding that the consent of the girl was obtained by putting her in a state of fear of death or of hurt. Therefore, the third clause of section 375 will not apply. There could be no fear because the girl was taken away by Ganpat right from amongst her near and dear ones.


    The circumstantial evidence available is not only capable of being construed in a way different from that adopted by the High Court but actually derogates in no uncertain measure from the inference drawn by it. [817G-H, 818A, G-H,819A] 

    Secondly, the intercourse in question is not proved to amount rape and that no offence is brought home to appellant Ganpat. As far as Tuka Ram is concerned, the girl has made serious allegations against Tuka Ram in the First 812 Information Report. She went back on these allegations at the Trial. The presence of Tuka Ram at the police station is not inculpatory and is capable of more explanations than one. The appellants were acquitted. [819C-E]


    "Besides the circumstances that emerge from the oral evidence on the record, we have to see in what situation Mathura was at the material time. Both the accused were strangers to her. It is not the case of the defence that Mathura knew both these accused or any of them since before the time of occurrence. It is, therefore, indeed, highly improbable that Mathura on her part would make any overtures or invite the accused to satisfy her sexual desire. 


    Indeed it is also not probable that a girl who was involved in a complaint filed by her brother would make such overtures or advances. The initiative must, therefore, have come from the accused and if such an initiative comes from the accused, indeed she could not have resisted the same on account of the situation in which she had found herself especially on account of a complaint filed by her brother against her which was pending enquiry at the very police station. 

    If these circumstances are taken into consideration it would be clear that the initiative for sexual intercourse must have come from the 816 accused or any of them and she had to submit without any resistance...............

    Mere passive or helpless surrender of the body and its resignation to the other's lust induced by threats or fear cannot be equated with the desire or will, nor can furnish an answer by the mere fact that the sexual act was not in opposition to such desire or volition.................. 


    On the other hand, taking advantage of the fact that Mathura was involved in a complaint filed by her brother and that she was alone at the police station at the dead hour of night, it is more probable that the initiative for satisfying the sexual desire must have proceeded from the accused, and that victim Mathura must not have been a willing party to the act of the sexual intercourse. Her subsequent conduct in making statement immediately not only to her relatives but also to the members of the crowd leave no manner of doubt that she was subjected to forcible sexual intercourse." 

    In relation to Tukaram appellant, the High Court did not believe that he had made any attempt to rape the girl but took her word for granted insofar as he was alleged to have fondled her private parts after the act of sexual intercourse by Ganpat appellant.




    14.16. NAND RAM vs STATE - CRLA Case No. 437 of 2002 [2007] RD-RJ 3541 (24 July 2007). HIGH COURT 2007.



    In a case based on circumstantial evidence unless the chain of circumstance link the accused with the crime, it is not safe to connect the accused with the crime and in that background we feel that the accused appellant is entitled to the benefit of doubt and in that view of the matter we accept the appeal of the appellant and hold that the circumstances are not as good , as has been made out by the prosecution, and in that background the accused is not liable to be convicted for the offences charged against him.




    14.17. SARALA V. STATE BY INSPECTOR OF POLICE. (26 SEPTEMBER 2002). NO.1231 OF 2002 [2002] RD-TN 761. MADRAS HIGH COURT 2002.




    Admittedly, there is no eye witness in this case. The whole case is based upon the circumstantial evidence. It is well settled, as laid down in the decisions reported in BALWINDER SINGH VS. STATE OF PUNJAB (1996 S.C.C. (CRL.) 59) and SUDAMA PANDEY VS. STATE OF BIHAR (2002 (1) S.C.C. 679) that the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be full proof and those circumstances must be conclusive in nature to connect the accused with the crime. 


    All the links in the chain of events must be established beyond reasonable doubt. The established circumstances should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and totally inconsistent with his innocence. In a case based on circumstantial evidence, the Court has to be on its guard to avoid the danger of allowing suspicion to take the place of legal proof and has to be watchful to avoid the danger of being swayed by emotional consideration, howsoever strong they may be to take the place of proof.


    22. In the light of the above principles, we can now analyse the case of the prosecution in the present case.


    23. The prosecution in this case relies upon three pieces of circumstantial evidence to show that the accused alone had committed the offence: (1) extra-judicial confession made by the accused to P.W.1 V. A.O.; (2) the accused was residing along with P.Ws.2 and 3 on 3.12.200 0 and took the deceased boy from their house on 4.12.2000 after he returned from the school; (3) the body of the deceased and the school bag were recovered on the confession of the accused.


    24. Let us discuss the above circumstances one by one.


    25. The first piece of evidence is extra-judicial confession. It is settled law that as laid down by the Supreme Court in STATE OF PUNJAB VS. BHAJAN SINGH (AIR 1975 SC 258) and in 1996 S.C.C. (Crl.) 59 ( cited supra) that the extra-judicial confession by its very nature is rather the weak type of evidence and requires appreciation with the great deal of care and caution. 


    Where the extra-judicial confession is surrounded by suspicious circumstances, its credibility becomes doubtful and it looses its importance. The Courts generally look for independent reliable corroboration before placing any reliance upon extra- judicial confession. Bearing on these principles, if we look at the contents of extra judicial confession, this Court is unable to place any reliance on Ex.P1, the extra-judicial confession made by the accused to P.W.1, the V.A.O




    14.18. STATE OF PUNJAB V. BHAJAN SINGH & ORS. SUPREME COURT 1974.  RD-SC 146 (16 August 1974)



    The circumstances of this case undoubtedly create suspicion against the accused. Suspicion, by itself, however strong it may be, is not sufficient to take the place of proof and warrant a finding of guilt of the accused. Another weakness of the prosecution case is that as 752 many as four persons have been involved in this case. 


    Even if it may be assumed that the dead bodies which were recovered from the place in front of the house of the accused were those of Harbans Singh and Bachan Singh deceased and that their death was homicidal, it is difficult to say whether the dastardly crime was the act of one or two culprits or of a larger number of them. In any case it is difficult to fix their identity.




    14.19. MULAKH RAJ V. SATISH KUMAR & ORS 1992. SUPREME COURT 1992. RD-SC 105 (10 April 1992)


    HELD : 1.1 In a case founded on circumstantial evidence the prosecution must prove all the circumstances connecting unbroken chain of links leading to only one inference that the accused committed the crime. If any other reasonable hypothesis of the innocence of the accused can be inferred from the proved circumstances, the accused would be entitled to the benefit. What is required is not the quantitative but qualitative, reliable and probable circumstances to complete the chain connecting the accused with the crime. 


    If the conduct of the accused in relation to the crime comes into question the previous and subsequent conduct are also relevant facts. Therefore, the absence of ordinary course of conduct of the accused and human probabilities of the case also would be relevant. The court must weight the evidence of the cumulative effect of the circumstances and if it reaches the conclusion that the accused committed the crime, the charge must be held proved and the conviction and sentence would follow.[491F-H, 492A]


    1.2 Undoubtedly, in cases of circumstantial evidences motive bears important significance. Motive always locks up in the mind of the accused and some time it is difficult to unlock. People do not act wholly without motive. The failure to discover the motive of an offence does not signify its non-existence. The failure to prove motive is not fatal as a matter of law. Proof of motive is never indispensable for conviction. 


    When facts are clear it is immaterial that motive has been proved. Therefore, absence of proof of motive does not break the link in the chain of circumstances connecting the accused with the crime, nor militates against the prosecution case. [498H, 499A].

     ===========================================================================




    SOURCE:-

    Update Magazine, Editor: Paraic Reamonn. WARC, Geneva, March 2000. Vol.10, No.1.

    Rev. I.B. Pranaitis, The Talmud Unmasked, 1892, pp.28-41. 
    www.truthinhistory.org/



    www.telegraph.co.uk/







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