On May 10th 2017 Indianapolis man, William WilliamBecomes became the 350th person to be exonerated by DNA evidence when the presiding judge granted a motion by the Prosecutor to dismiss the rape conviction against him. The motion was based on newly attained DNA evidence that proved that William was not the perpetrator of the alleged rape that had taken place over 25 years ago. The Innocence Project and the Wrongful Conviction Clinic at Indiana University McKinney had previously worked to successfully have William’s conviction reversed on March 8, 2017 based on this new evidence.
William spent 25 years of his life in prison after he was wrongfully convicted of rape in December of 1992. The alleged rape had occurred on April 21, 1992 behind a vacant building. William became a suspect shortly afterwards. William suffered and still suffers from from serious life-long mental health conditions. Subsequent to the incident the complainant would falsely identify William as the rapist in a problematic photo line-up, conducted using a highly suggestive technique.
The prosecutor would rely heavily on this identification as well as inconclusive, now-dated DNA testing in the case against William. At his trail they would call a hair analyst expert would give evidence that William’s hair conclusively matched that of the perpetrator’s. This evidence, in combination with the false photo line-up identification would prove to be compelling enough for the jury . William would maintain his innocence throughout his 25 years in custody, He insisted that he was mistakenly identified and that the hair could not be his. After the trial he was wrongfully convicted of rape and sentenced to 80 years in prison.
After spending a significant length of time in prison William would eventually reach out to the Innocence Project for assistance. The Innocence Project, in-conjunction with the Wrongful Conviction Clinic at Indiana University McKinney, sought DNA testing of the sperm deposited on the complainant’s vaginal swabs and the sperm deposited on the complainant’s jeans attained after the alleged incident . The Prosecutor’s Office consented to the DNA testing. Since 1992, significant advancements have been made in DNA testing. The hair strand testing that was used to wrongfully convict William is no longer considered reliable as it has been the source of many wrongfully convictions. The new tests revealed that William was innocent of the rape and that another perpetrator had deposited the sperm.
The prosecutors were now finally convinced that William was innocent and that they had wrongfully convicted him of a crime he did not commit. In light of this evidence, prosecutors worked with William’s defence lawyers, Innocence Project and Wrongful Conviction Clinic at Indiana University McKinney to successfully reverse William’s convictions. Finally on March 8, 2017. William was released form prison, he was finally a free man after 25 years in custody.
Since his release in March, William has been getting the help he needs to address his mental health conditions. He reports to be doing very well. He has reunited with his family and is attempting to recover from the injustice he has suffered.
William said, “It was rough. I was always innocent. I’m glad it’s finally over. I feel so happy.”