Robert Dewey Exonerated in Colorado
On April 30, Robert Dewey walked out of the Mesa County Courthouse after 18 years of wrongful imprisonment. All charges in the rape and murder of Jacie Taylor were dropped after DNA testing established Dewey’s innocence and implicated the real perpetrator, a convicted rapist and murderer. Dewey became a suspect in the case because law enforcement found his actions following the crime suspicious. Pretrial DNA testing provided mixed results. The testing confirmed that Dewey was not the source of semen recovered from a blanket where the crime occurred. But the pretrial testing also indicated that blood on Dewey’s shirt was consistent with the victim and 45% of the population. The circumstantial evidence and the pretrial DNA results helped prosecutors convict Dewey.
With the help of the Innocence Project and co-counsel Danyel Joffe, additional testing was conducted pointing to Dewey’s innocence. His attorneys took this new evidence to the Colorado Attorney General’s newly formed Justice Review Project, which secured the collaboration of the original Mesa County prosecutor. Additional testing using modern methods confirmed that the victim’s blood was not on Dewey’s shirt. The testing also confirmed, through a hit in the CODIS DNA database, that the semen was left by Douglas Thames, a man who was incarcerated for committing a similar crime. The Mesa County District Attorney’s office is currently prosecuting Thames for Ms. Taylor’s murder.
To Read More of Source: http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/Colorado_Man_to_be_Exonerated_by_DNA_Evidence
Innocence Project Continues Fight to Free George Allen
Thirty years after being convicted of rape and murder and sixteen years after the Innocence Project took his case, George Allen’s ordeal may soon be over. In May, lawyers from the Innocence Project and the law firm of Bryan Cave asked a Missouri judge to vacate George Allen’s 1982 conviction for the rape and murder of a St. Louis court reporter based on overwhelming evidence of innocence.
Police arrested Allen by accident believing him to be a suspect. After discovering their mistake, they decided to interrogate him anyway. During the interrogation, Allen, who is schizophrenic, told police that he was inebriated. A recording of the interrogation also reveals police guiding Allen about how to answer questions so that they fit the facts of the crime. One of the interrogating officers recently admitted that the confession was “iffy.”
In its original petition seeking to vacate Allen’s conviction, attorneys presented new DNA testing and previously undisclosed serology evidence excluding Allen. More recently, lawyers uncovered undisclosed evidence that fingerprints recovered at the crime scene also excluded Allen. In spite of the evidence supporting Allen’s innocence and establishing misconduct, the Missouri Attorney General’s office is defending Allen’s conviction. The judge has asked the parties to submit a joint statement of uncontested facts in anticipation of issuing a ruling.
To Read More of Source: http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/DNA_and_Other_Withheld_Evidence
Rape Conviction Dismissed for Bennie Starks After 20 Years in Prison
Lake County prosecutors have dismissed rape charges against an Illinois man who served 20 years for the crime. This is a reversal for the prosecutor’s office, which had threatened to retry Bennie Starks on the charges even though multiple rounds of DNA testing definitively excluded him as the perpetrator of the rape. The Innocence Project first obtained DNA test results suggesting Starks’ innocence in 2001.
Starks is one of the Innocence Project’s oldest active cases, having represented him since 1996. He has been free on bond since 2006. The change in heart from the Lake County’s State’s Attorney’s office comes in the wake of the resignation of Assistant State’s Attorney Mike Mermel, who stepped down in response to calls for his resignation by the Lake County Sheriff after an article exposing Mermel’s unwillingness to accept DNA science appeared in the New York Times Magazine. Additionally, an Illinois appeals court ruled in February that prosecutors were forbidden from using the earlier testimony of the victim, who is now deceased, in the retrial of Starks.
Unfortunately, Starks is still fighting a battery charge that we contend should have been thrown out with the rape charge. Oral arguments before an Illinois appeals court were held earlier this month and a decision is expected sometime later this year.
Why I Give: A Donor Profile
Artist/ Founder & President Emeritus of the Childrens’ Discovery Museum and Science Discovery Museum
It’s clear to me how dangerous and prevalent mistaken eyewitness identification is because I experienced it. I was misidentified as the person who robbed a Portland, Maine, hair salon. I was handcuffed, brought to jail and put behind bars. What I heard was: ‘We’ve got the guy who robbed the hair salon.’ I never experienced the presumption of innocence that we all believe exists in this country. If I had been a person of color or a man without some means, I would probably be in prison now. I really wanted to contribute to criminal justice reform, so I offered to do a series of photography shows in Maine, and donated 100% of the proceeds of all the sales to the Innocence Project.
All Of The Above Excerpts are from the Innocence Project in this blog.
- It is such a shame that District Attorney’s offices, General Attorney offices and sometimes Judges cannot admit to making a mistake or to the misconduct. Are they afraid of the liability or possibly ending up behind the very bars they have put these innocent individuals behind? This is an injustice that not only these people have suffered for so long, their families have suffered, but the taxpayers have suffered. Taxpayers have been paying out millions of dollars over the years on innocent people. It is no longer that there might be possibly one or two innocent. Studies have now proved there has been thousands. Montana we also have innocent people behind our prison walls. Are you going to continue to allow the misconduct that is going on in our state? Are you going to allow our officials to keep getting away with this? Will you join with other states that has said enough is enough? Will you join with the other states that have said “no” to private prisons? Will you join with the other states that are tired of the corruption? Will you join with the other states and other Americans that have said they want prisons downsized and not where we represent enough inmates in this world to have a small country? Seven million within a system is outrageous! Montana, lets be Americans and not a locked down country where you have to walk on egg shells for fear of any little, tiny itty bitty thing will put you behind bars. To where they freely put innocent people behind prison walls to be locked up forever.