Brian Piszczek was convicted in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, in 1991 of rape, felonious assault, and burglary. The victim was home alone and answered a knock at her door. When asked who he was, the perpetrator claimed to be a friend and the victim thought she recognized the voice. The assailant, after being let in, pulled a knife and cut the victim several times before raping her.
The victim, two months after the attack, identified Brian Piszczek from a photo lineup and subsequently identified him in court as the assailant. Piszczek’s alibi could only be confirmed by his girlfriend and he had, in fact, been to the victim’s house before with a mutual friend.
Piszczek’s appeal failed, though it cited trial counsel for not seeking DNA testing of the evidence. The Innocence Project took over the case in the postconviction phase. The Innocence Project filed for release of the evidence in 1994. The request was granted and the evidence went to Forensic Science Associates.
FSA performed PCR based DNA testing on vaginal and anal swabs and a cutting from the victim’s nightgown. Piszczek was excluded as the donor of all the samples. After receiving the results, the prosecution moved the court to overturn Piszczek’s conviction, which happened in October 1994. Piszczek had spent four years in prison.
Charge: Rape, Felonious Assault, Burglary
Conviction: Rape, Felonious Assault, Burglary
Sentence: 15 to 25 years
Incident Date: 07/29/1990
Conviction Date: 01/01/1991
Exoneration Date: 10/06/1994
Accused Pleaded Guilty: No
Contributing Causes of Conviction: Eyewitness Misidentification
Death Penalty Case: No
Race of Defendant: Caucasian
Race of Victim: Caucasian
Status: Exonerated by DNA
Alternative Perpetrator Identified: No
Type of Crime: Other, Sex Crimes