Kerry Kotler was convicted for the rape, burglary, and robbery of the same victim on separate occasions in 1978 and 1981.
A man in a ski mask and armed with a knife had raped and robbed her in her home. She could not identify him and reported only the burglary to the police. In 1981, she returned home to find a man who claimed to be returning for another visit, this time without a mask, who again raped and robbed her at knife point.
The victim identified Kotler from a photo book, as well as by voice and at a live lineup. Testing by conventional serology could not exclude Kotler as the depositor of the semen on the victim’s underwear. Kotler appealed based on many issues, but his conviction was affirmed.
In 1989, Kotler succeeded in having the evidence sent to a laboratory for DNA testing. The amount of DNA, however, was insufficient and the evidence was returned. The evidence was then sent to Forensic Science Associates in 1990. PCR testing revealed that Kotler could not have been the depositor of the semen on the victim’s underwear. The prosecution contended that the profile found could have been a mixture of a consensual partner and Kotler. The evidence was then sent to the Center for Blood Research, whose findings were the same as FSA’s. The victim’s husband was then tested and also excluded.
Based on these results, the defense filed to vacate the judgment. Besides the DNA results, the defense brought up the withholding of evidence including police reports that showed the victim’s description of the assailant to be quite different from Kotler and that the identification itself was not positive. The court held a hearing regarding the DNA evidence, resulting in the prosecution joining the defense to vacate the conviction. Two weeks later, the indictments were officially dismissed. Kotler had served almost eleven years in prison. He would later be convicted of different charges on the basis of DNA evidence.
State: New York
Charge: Rape (2 cts.), Burglary 1 (2 cts.), Burglary 2 (2 cts.), Robbery
Conviction: Rape (2 cts.), Burglary 1 (2 cts.), Burglary 2 (2 cts.), Robbery
Sentence: 25 to 50 years
Incident Date: 10/17/1978
Conviction Date: 02/24/1982
Exoneration Date: 12/14/1992
Accused Pleaded Guilty: No
Contributing Causes of Conviction: Eyewitness Misidentification, Government Misconduct
Death Penalty Case: No
Race of Defendant: Caucasian
Race of Victim: Caucasian
Status: Exonerated by DNA
Alternative Perpetrator Identified: No
Type of Crime: Sex Crimes