News 06.18.10

A First Pitch on the Anniversary of Freedom

Seven years ago this week,

Kenneth Wyniemko

walked out of a Michigan courthouse a free man for the first time in more than eight years. Last night, he marked the anniversary of his freedom by throwing out the first pitch at a home game of the minor league

Lansing Lugnuts

baseball team.

Wyniemko was convicted in 1994 of breaking into the home of a 28-year-old woman in Clinton Township, Michigan, and raping the victim. His conviction rested on two common causes of wrongful conviction –

eyewitness misidentification

and snitch

testimony

.

The attacker wore a nylon stocking over his head — concealing his face — but the victim described what he looked like based on a few glimpses she had gotten of him during the attack. A composite sketch was constructed from her description (the victim later said that she believed it to be 60 percent accurate). Around the time the victim produced her description, Wyniemko was arrested for a misdemeanor charge, and the police made the visual connection between him and the composite sketch, and he was charged with the rape.

In addition to the eyewitness evidence, a jailhouse snitch testified — in exchange for a dismissal of the case pending against him — that Wyniemko had confessed to him that he committed the crime. Wyniemko was convicted and sentenced to 40-60 years in prison. After the Michigan Legislature passed a law in 2001 permitting DNA testing in rape cases, Wyniemko’s case was among the many investigated by Thomas M. Cooley Law School Innocence Project.  A DNA test was conducted and Wyniemko was exonerated on June 17, 2003.

Several years later, prosecutors announced that the DNA testing that exonerated Wyniemko had

implicated another man in the crime

, but that the statute of limitations prevented them from charging him.

Watch a video interview with Wyniemko below, where he discusses the snitch testimony in his case and more.


Other Exoneree Anniversaries This Week:


Calvin Johnson

, Georgia (Served 15.5 Years, Exonerated 6/15/99)


Jerry Townsend

, Florida (Served: 21.5 Years, Exonerated: 6/15/01)

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