Friday, October 21, 2011

Wrongly accused man freed after 30 years

Based on information posted at the Innocence Project Web site, a woman made a false rape claim that sent an innocent man to prison for 30 years.

From the Innocence Project Web site:

"Henry James was convicted of aggravated rape and sentenced to life without parole on May 7, 1982. James, who testified on his own behalf at trial and presented three alibi witness to back up his testimony, has always maintained his innocence of the rape of a woman who he had met on several occasions and who lived adjacent to him. Although the defendant was with the victim’s husband the day before the attack and had several encounters with the victim on that day, she told police immediately after the crime that she didn’t know her attacker. However, two days later she identified James from a book of suspects and later picked him out of a lineup.

"James requested the help of the Innocence Project, which sought to do DNA testing of the rape kit. Although officials at the Jefferson Parish Crime Laboratory were cooperative, the initial searches for the evidence proved fruitless. On May 3, 2010, Milton Dureau, who worked for the lab, was looking for evidence in a different case when he stumbled upon a slide from James’ case. Fortunately, he remembered the case number from his earlier search. The evidence was sent to Orchid Cellmark, which did STR DNA testing on the slide. The testing, which was completed on September 26, 2011, excluded James as the perpetrator in the rape.

"With the consent of Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick, Jr., a Jefferson Parish judge vacated the conviction and dismiss the charges late on October 20, 2011. James is expected walk out of Angola prison on Friday morning, October 21.

"The Innocence Project is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law."