DNA Exonerations

For the last three decades, DNA evidence has transformed policing. While there are many types of forensic evidence that can help solve a case, DNA is a virtually irrefutable source of proof when it comes to blood, semen, saliva and so on. This evidence has proven guilt and innocence time and time again, and fortunately it has allowed miscarriages of justice to be corrected and overturned.

DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, the chemical name for the molecule holding hereditary material from humans and all living things. This allows scientists to accurately match the DNA evidence to one particular person, as our DNA material is unique to us. If police can find samples at a crime scene and match these to a suspect, it makes for a fairly open and shut case.

It also means that DNA has been able to retroactively exonerate 375 people in the US alone. Serving an average of 14 years, these falsely imprisoned individuals have spent thousands of days behind bars for a crime they did not commit. 21 of these people even served time on death row. A staggering 69% of these cases involved false eyewitness testimony that led to their incarceration, while almost half involved misapplication of forensic science. It may come as no surprise that of the 375 who have so far been exonerated, 225 or 60% were African Americans.

1989 saw the first case of DNA exoneration. Gary Dotson had served ten years in jail after being falsely accused of rape by 16-year-old Cathleen Crowell. A decade later, the alleged victim confessed to fabricating the attack and a forensic serologist confirmed that her and Dotson had not had intercourse.

Other notable DNA exoneration cases include Horace Roberts. At age 60, Roberts was released from prison in 2018 after more than 20 years in custody. DNA testing of evidence left at the crime scene turned up a profile for an unidentified man who was later named as Joaquin Leal. Steven Avery, the subject of Netflix’s ‘Making A Murderer’ documentary, was also exonerated by DNA testing after spending 18 years in jail.

If you’d like to find out more about DNA evidence or how a computer forensic investigator can help prove your innocence, get in touch with ICFECI today.