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Four of his clients were eventually executed. On the same day the new protocol was adopted a young photographer Teresa Halbach was brutally murdered, Steven Avery and his nephew were convicted of the crime. In 2015 Cathy Woods was finally released from a 34 year imprisonment as a result of DNA evidence. Eventually police withdrew Tapp’s immunity, leaned on him until he confessed, and charged him. Supervisors also discovered sixteen pieces of evidence that had been placed in the wrong rape kits. Gary Dotson requested a retrial but was denied as the judge felt that the victims recantation was not believable, the case was handed over to the State Governor who refused to issue a pardon. In Tapp’s case, Hampikian has pushed for the use of a new, controversial DNA technique that he believes may yet identify the real killer and exonerate Tapp. My name is Megan and I create true crime content on YouTube. Nevertheless, the Italian court found Knox and Sollecito guilty. As stated by The Honourable Justice Vincent who undertook a review of the case: In 2006, he faked DNA evidence that was used to solve the murder of Jessica O’Grady. Working on the theory that several people must have attacked Angie Dodge, police offered Tapp immunity if he would reveal the name of the other assailant. The judge refused to allow evidence of other similar attacks that Cole could not have committed to be presented. This heightened sensitivity can easily create false positives. Seventy-three of the labs got it wrong, saying the suspect's DNA was part of the mix when, in fact, it was not. His conviction was subsequently overturned but by that time he had served 10 years in prison. In 2004, he moved to BSU, where, in addition to teaching and doing research in genetics, he helped found the Idaho Innocence Project. In this case the witness Ms Thomas was not cross-examined. Indeed, White's DNA matched 11 of the 13 alleles found in a DNA mixture at the crime scene that did not belong to the victim. He had done research on the Y chromosome in Australia and was teaching at Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia, in 1993 when an associate of famed criminologist Henry Lee asked him whether science could determine the sex of a person based on traces of saliva left at a crime scene. (It could.) The evidence against Cole related to his blood type (which he shared with the victim) being present in the samples and the fact that hair found on the victim was similar to Cole’s. It has exonerated scores of people convicted based on more flawed disciplines like hair or bite-mark analysis. Adams and the others were convicted of the crime. The victim, horrified at the miscarriage of justice, worked closely with his family to exonerate him and has spoken out to raise awareness of the possibility of misidentification by witnesses. Other than her confession and the fact that she was working in the local area at the time of the incident there was nothing to link her to the murder. The student was taken to a field where she was subjected to a prolonged rape before being returned to town. “There was a mutual misunderstanding between me and someone else.” He mentions that he and his wife are getting divorced. Over the weeks, Tapp gave them several dozen names, but DNA ruled out each new suspect. Kirk Odom claimed to be at home at the time of the attack and his mother corroborated his testimony. Timothy Cole was sentenced to 25 years for the rape of a student in 1985. Like the Italians, Hampikian’s group looked for DNA at levels below the FBI-recommended minimum. Tapp says: “I appreciate everything you guys are doing, and thank …” but the line cuts off before he can finish his sentence. Michael Phillips maintained his innocence until offered a reduction in sentence to 12 years through a plea bargain (he was potentially looking at a 99 year sentence). Studies have confirmed this. “I’m really sorry Chris, that’s a lot to deal with,”  Hampikian says. ‘The Ford Heights Four’ were convicted of the 1978 murder of a young couple and the brutal gang rape of the woman. In 2010 an analysis of DNA evidence not previously provided to the defense showed that it was linked to a local man, Roscoe Artis who was found guilty of a similar crime just one month after the murder of little Sabrina Buie. In the case of Angie Dodge, Idaho Falls police checked the crime scene DNA against FBI’s database and did not find a match. The men’s attorney was later disbarred for fraud in another case and admitted that he was too stressed, during the original trial, to defend the men properly. A … Govinda Mainali traveled from his native Nepal to work in Japan. Steven Avery provided 16 alibi witnesses but a forensic examiner’s testimony that his hair matched that found on his shirt matched the victim and her own strong evidence led to his conviction. All rights Reserved. In 1994 the informant admitted to having made up his evidence to take advantage of a deal on charges against him for another crime, subsequently the four men were able to gain access to DNA evidence, the testing of which exonerated them and implicated another three men. A landmark report published by the National Research Council in 2009 dismissed most forensics as unproven folk-wisdom but singled out DNA as the one forensic science worthy of the name. While the DNA profiles were being entered, Sotolusson's name and the cellmate's name were switched accidentally. He has since refused to acknowledge the clear results of the DNA evidence. Having had significant success (33 exonerations from 2007) they turned their attention to rape cases that occurred prior to routine DNA tests becoming mandatory for crime samples. But the prosecutor and jury believed his confession. The victim had identified a man named Tyrone White as one of her attackers. Last spring, Thomas got court permission to try another avenue: have a laboratory do “touch DNA” testing of swabs that had been taken from Dodge's hands. Hampikian's lab also tested the DNA of four employees from a local TV news station; all four had at least two alleles in common with the crime scene, like Robinson. No one has fought for him longer than Hampikian, a researcher at Boise State University (BSU). 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An eyewitness put the three men near the site of the crime but the defense attorney failed to point out a major timing obstacle in the evidence. Idaho Falls police detained Tapp because he was a friend of their prime suspect, who was eventually released. A saliva sample found on the victim was known at the time of arrest, not to belong to Govinda Mainali but the prosecution withheld this evidence (as entitled to do under Japanese rules at that time). Yet in recent years Hampikian and other geneticists have begun to question the technology. He served his full term but was then re-arrested and made to serve a further 6 months for failure to register as a sex offender. It appears that the police had received a tip off about the real perpetrators but ignored it; as a result of this the Ford Heights Four received a payout of $36m from the police officers. Sutton’s case was taken up by Robert Wicoff, a defense attorney in Houston, who persuaded a Texas judge to have the DNA evidence reprocessed by a private testing facility. It is often said that DNA was used first to convict Colin Pitchfork of the murder of two school girls in the 1980’s. Sometimes people give a false confession, usually as a result of over pressured questioning techniques by the police involved. One possible approach is a search process called familial DNA. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Dave is a voracious reader and ferocious writer of top 10 lists. Hampikian reviewed the lab’s procedures and data for the defense team. “Too much is left to the analysts’ discretion.”, Hampikian conducted a similar study using DNA evidence from a real crime: the case of Kerry Robinson, a Georgia man serving 20 years for taking part in a gang rape. DNA evidence including semen and samples from her nails and body hair was taken from the victim but was not tested at the time of the original trial because the semen samples were allegedly too small for the then available techniques. For Stephen Cowens of Roxbury, Massachusetts, it was six and a half years too long. But police took an interest in one of his sons, Michael Usry, Jr., a 36-year-old filmmaker in New Orleans, Louisiana, who produced gory murder films and who had passed through Idaho near the time of the murder in 1996. The Innocence Project came across Deskovic’s case in 2006, and conducted further testing with newer technology on the semen in the rape kit. Coupled with confessions from the murderers and DNA evidence, Williams, Adams, Rainge, and Jimerson were finally exonerated after 17 years in prison. An informant claimed to have heard Dennis Williams and Willie Rainge boasting about the murder. Traces of Sollecito’s DNA had been found on the clasp of a bra belonging to Kercher, suggesting that he had taken part in the sexual assault, while a knife in Sollecito’s kitchen drawer showed Knox’s DNA on the handle and Kercher’s DNA on the blade. In 16 cases, pieces of evidence were returned to the wrong rape kit, hindering 19 investigations. His request was only granted in 2012 at which point the DNA evidence was examined and he was declared innocent. Analysts focus on 13 or more places in the genome, called loci, where humans are extraordinarily diverse. But the court is only allowing us a limited amount and we have to decide which test is the right one.”. Michael Phillips made history as the first US man to be exonerated by a DNA test he did not request. 1 . He also failed to point out other evidentiary inconsistencies relating to blood and hair. An FBI analyst tasked with examining hair samples found on the victim claimed that they were ‘indistinguishable’ from Odom’s hair. Coworkers at the medical examiner’s office had to work around the clock double-checking the fired technician’s findings. The real perpetrator was not found but the analysis of the samples showed that some of them could have come from the victim’s then boyfriend. Steven Avery’s case is one of the most interesting chronicles of men exonerated by DNA. Later, he was so captivated by the story of Calvin Johnson, who was exonerated by DNA in 1999 after spending 16 years in prison for rape, that he helped Johnson write an autobiography, Exit to Freedom. On a Tuesday morning in Boise, biologist Greg Hampikian is on speakerphone with Christopher Tapp, an inmate at the Idaho State Correctional Institution. David Butler has every right to be cynical about the use of DNA evidence by the police. “We’re going to keep attacking the state’s theory piece by piece,” Hampikian says. Thanks to a series of advances—including the polymerase chain reaction, which can multiply tiny amounts of DNA—it’s now possible to detect DNA at levels hundreds or even thousands of times lower than when DNA fingerprinting was developed in the 1980s. The evidence against him was overwhelming—palm prints, fingerprints, and his DNA on the victim and throughout her room—and he was eventually found guilty. She identified a photograph of Steven Avery as her attacker and later gave a positive identification at trial. A man convicted of murdering Adelaide schoolgirl Louise Bell argues on appeal that his conviction should be overturned because forensic evidence cannot prove how his DNA … Civil rights advocates object to this procedure because it means that simply being related to an offender can make you a person of interest; Maryland and the District of Columbia have banned the practice. Additionally, a Dutch forensic expert found Boney’s DNA under Kim Camm’s fingernails and her DNA on his sweatshirt, two pieces of evidence which sealed his conviction. During the third trial, the defense presented evidence that the initial blood splatter expert had falsified his credentials and had no history of working with blood splatters. She thought there were some similarities between Kirk Odom and her attacker (he was the only clean-shaven suspect shown to the victim) and asked to see a lineup where he was identified as the attacker. “You know we got a decision from the court to move forward with a new DNA test. My name is Megan and I create true crime content on YouTube. In 2006, he faked DNA evidence that was used to solve the murder of Jessica O’Grady. Boulder Police Chief Greg Testa declined to comment on the DNA evidence, according to the report, but announced in September that more than 200 DNA samples had been submitted for analysis in the case. Greg Hampikian lab, Explore; Boise State University professor. Analysts are picking up DNA transferred from one person to another by way of an object that both of them have touched, or from one piece of evidence to another by crime scene investigators, lab techs—or when two items jostled against each other in an evidence bag. With mixtures, they’re looking at bunches of peaks, with no indication of which pairs go together, or which source they came from—aside from those of the known victim. Then, without changing gloves, they put five newly bought knives into separate evidence bags. One of them, a 26-year-old white female, had three. G eorge Perrot has spent almost 30 years in prison thanks to a single hair. Dean Cage: The only evidence against Dean Cage was the erroneous testimony of the victim of a rape. As you will see from the list below a number of reasons come to light, most often eyewitnesses get the ID wrong or forensic techniques were applied improperly. The victim assisted the police in preparing an identity sketch and then identified Gary Dotson from photographs and in a lineup. Unknown to Michael Phillips his case was on the list for review by the Dallas Conviction Integrity Unit which works to review potential claims of wrongful conviction. They said Tapp held Dodge's arms down while one or two other men assaulted and killed her. Sean Hodgson’s blood type matched blood found at the scene and he initially confessed to the murder although he retracted his confession during his trial. While DNA evidence has been a unique tool of justice in uncovering so many wrongful convictions, it can also result in wrongful convictions. Many others think he’s innocent as well—lawyers, journalists, an organization of former judges; even the victim’s mother. The analyst further claimed that pubic hair samples were a match for Gary Dotson and not for the victim (hair analysis is not reliable). But Italian prosecutors also charged Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito with murder. Following his release he was deported back to Nepal for overstaying his visa, he had served a total of 15 years in jail. It is also not uncommon for the convictions to be the result of a false confession made at the time of arrest and subsequently retracted or due to false testimony by police informers seeking to gain advantage in their own cases. As a result the case was sent to the English Court of Appeal and Sean Hodgson was released in 2009. In court both brothers protested their innocence claiming that they confessed under duress. 2d 257 (1995)). List Land also generates revenue through sponsored or paid posts. At least two jurors publicly stated after trial that the shoddy DNA evidence persuaded them of Holtzclaw’s collective guilt. In 2013, geneticist Michael Coble of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, set up a hypothetical scenario in which a mix of DNA from several people had been found on a ski mask left at a crime scene after a series of robberies. As the nation’s only Innocence Project director who’s also a scientist, “he’s absolutely essential to what we do,” said Aimee Maxwell, executive director of the Georgia Innocence Project in Decatur, which Hampikian co-founded. With a simple sample, analysts look at two sets of peaks at a given locus: one for the victim and one for the perpetrator. Even if police can't match DNA from a crime scene to FBI's national DNA database, loosening their search criteria may lead to a so-called partial match—possibly a relative of the perpetrator, which could provide an investigative lead. Help us create more great content. Why were so many people wrongly convicted and what does that say about the justice system in the US and others worldwide where people can be sent away from society for crimes they did not commit? At the time the murder took place DNA sampling was not available as a tool in investigations. Such a statement was a gross exaggeration as hair analysis is inexact and cannot give a match. Hey there, welcome to my channel. (Usry, meanwhile, has become so interested in Tapp’s case that he announced plans to make a film about it.). Testing these kits might have yielded DNA evidence that could have advanced investigations. Authorities had accused a local young man named Rudy Guede with sexually assaulting and killing Kercher. His defense argued that little or no weight should be given to his confession as he was a pathological liar. There he was arrested for the 1997 murder of a businesswoman/prostitute Yasuko Wantabe who was strangled to death in a brutal attack that attracted prurient headlines across Japan, mostly related to the lifestyle choices of the poor victim. In early cases, DNA testing was typically used when a suspect had already been identified, often when an abundance of biological evidence is left behind for comparison, Murphy explained. These cases listed here are just some of the stories of men and women exonerated for crimes they did not commit through the analysis of DNA. The main reasons for wrongful conviction are strikingly similar in many cases. They're not wrong: DNA is the most accurate forensic science we have. He works with defense attorneys and police around the world, trying to free innocent people by exploiting the power of DNA forensics—or by exposing its pitfalls. Robinson had two alleles in common with DNA found on the victim's body, both “at the borderline of detection,” says Hampikian, who testified that Robinson was “absolutely excluded.”. In order to mount an appeal, Tapp’s lawyers must produce evidence that was not available at the time of the trial. The stories of these people should serve as a warning to society and to our police and prosecutors to ensure that a single crime does not give rise to two innocent victims. In 1979 Cathy Woods, who suffered mental health problems, had confessed to the 1976 murder of Michelle Mitchell whose body was found with her hands tied and throat slit. Only after 14 years and DNA … A man with Parkinson’s disease who was unable to walk more than a few feet without assistance was convicted of a burglary based on a partial DNA profile match. Along the way, he used DNA to help exonerate at least a dozen wrongfully convicted people in the United States, Taiwan, and Italy. White confessed; as part of a plea bargain he implicated Robinson, against whom he had a grudge. He was convicted for a violent kidnapping and rape of a young woman in 1977. "The problem is someone typed in the wrong name," Assistant District Attorney J. Charles Thompson said. “You know my offer still stands. “He knows his stuff and is a great witness. Hampikian became a founding member of the board of the Georgia Innocence Project, launched in 2002. But he puts on a brave phone voice for him as he explains the options. Gary Dotson was, however, released on parole but subsequently re-jailed for domestic abuses conviction was re-affirmed by the Appellate Court in 1987. Police claimed that Cathy Woods had provided them with key information (all of which was available from the public accounts of the murder) and sent her to trial claiming that Cathy Woods had killed Mitchell in a fit of pique over rebuffed sexual advances. Hampikian, who holds joint appointments in biology and criminal justice at BSU and heads the Idaho Innocence Project, has been helping people like Tapp for more than 20 years. He tried and failed to have his conviction overturned and decided to accept the fact that he would have to live with the stigma of his conviction for the rest of his life. The DNA evidence for both men was profiled, and the profiles were entered into a lab computer, Hoffman said. "The problem is someone typed in the wrong name," Assistant District Attorney J. Charles Thompson said. In January of 2004 Boston police and prosecutors admitted they were wrong when, at Cowens 1998 trial for murder, they claimed that fingerprints found at the crime scene unquestionably belonged to him. In 2013 DNA evidence from the scene of the crime was re-tested and found to be male. Justice was finally served when, in 2014, the two men were finally released after serving 30 years for a crime they did not commit. Gary Dotson had type B blood but so did the victim, the semen recovered tested as type A. So why are so many innocent people judged to be guilty of crimes they did not commit? While DNA evidence has been a unique tool of justice in uncovering so many wrongful convictions, it can also result in wrongful convictions. In 161 of those cases the analysis of the DNA evidence has led police and prosecutors to the real perpetrators. Contributing to 45% of the wrongful convictions that have been overturned by DNA in that country, it is also estimated to have contributed to 31% of wrongful convictions in Australia. He spent eight months in prison, on remand, facing murder charges after his DNA … The Florida Supreme Court threw out Hayes’s conviction and the DNA evidence in 1995 (Hayes v. Florida, 660 So. On the the basis of falsified evidence, her presumed killer, Christopher Edwards, may now have legal grounds to overturn an otherwise convincing murder conviction. A few weeks later a police officer came across the 18 year old Kirk Odom and, thinking he looked similar to the sketch of the suspect arranged for the victim to be shown a photograph. “The idea that you could free someone with a little bit of this snotlike stuff was a notion that seemed thrilling to me,” he says. Several other rapes had occurred at around the same time. Cases where convicts walked free because of DNA evidence a brave phone voice for him he! At risk of execution for those crimes were affected but did not need a statement. Cynical about the use of DNA evidence has been misused or misunderstood, leading to miscarriages justice! Only evidence against dean Cage: the only evidence against dean Cage was convicted of the woman at of. Lawyers must produce evidence that was completely consensual in 2026 getting divorced not request the genome called., after Italian DNA experts reviewed the lab ’ s conviction rested solely on DNA evidence analyst tasked with hair. 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