Allow DNA testing as Proof of Innocence
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Research shows that 99.9% of human DNA is identical, but that .1% can be used in forensic labs to differentiate one individual from another.
Gary Dotson: First Person Exonerated by DNA
In July 1979, Gary Dotson was convicted of aggravated kidnapping and rape of 16-year-old Cathleen Crowell Webb in a Chicago suburb and sentenced to 25-50 years in prison.
The teen identified Dotson from a police mugshot book and police lineup.
Later at trial, the prosecution included the composite sketch of the assailant that was prepared by the police with Webb’s assistance. Eyewitness misidentification coupled with flawed serology and improper hair analysis during trial helped secure Dotson’s conviction.
In March 1985, Webb recanted her testimony, admitting that she fabricated the rape to hide a consensual sexual encounter with her then-boyfriend. Dotson contended that the victim’s recantation of testimony constituted grounds to vacate the original sentence but was denied a new trial.
Dotson’s attorney Warren Lupel petitioned Governor James Thompson for clemency. Instead of taking a recommendation from the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, Thompson decided to preside over the hearing. The case was already highly publicized and this intensified when the review board televised the graphic proceedings. The governor refused to believe Webb’s recantation, and Dotson was denied a pardon, losing another chance at justice.
After several years of having his parole denied, Dotson’s new attorney Thomas M. Bree had DNA tests conducted, not available at the time of trial, which matched Webb’s boyfriend at the time of the crime, and not Dotson.
Finally, the chief judge of the Cook County Criminal Court ruled that Dotson was entitled to a new trial. The state’s attorney office, however, decided not to prosecute based on the DNA test results. Dotson’s conviction was finally overturned on August 14, 1989, after he had served 10 years in prison.
This use of DNA testing is denied as serviceable evidence for those wrongfully convicted in some states. This NEEDS to change. We can get so many more innocent people out of jail with the use of DNA testing. If DNA technology could prove people guilty of crimes, it could also prove that people who had been wrongfully convicted were innocent.
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