Evidence Points to Innocence in 1986 Rape Case


Scientific evidence proves that a Michigan man who has spent 25 years in prison for the rape of a 9-year-old girl in 1986 is innocent, but eyewitness testimony from the victim has prevented him from winning a new trial, reported the Detroit Free Press.

Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan co-director David Moran, who represents Karl Vinson, told the Free Press that Vinson is a victim of a flawed forensic test and that more recent tests rule him out as a suspect.

The victim was unable to identify the perpetrator until her mother suggested it could be Vinson.

In 1991 Vinson requested DNA testing be conducted on a semen stain found on the victim’s bedsheet.  At the time of his conviction, the stain revealed the presence of semen and Type O blood.  Vinson is Type AB and was confirmed to be a nonsecretor after tests conducted by the lab technician.  The same lab technician couldn’t rule him out as a suspect because she said his AB antigens wouldn’t have shown up in the semen stain.

Fifteen years later Vinson learned that the evidence had been destroyed.

In 2009, with the help of Claudia Whitman, a Colorado prisoner advocate, he was given a new test that showed he is a secretor, meaning his AB blood antigens should have showed up in the semen stain. But the circuit judge refused to grant a new trial, suggesting the semen stain might have come from a sexual encounter involving the girl’s parents, even though the prosecutor said at trial that it had come from the rapist.

Moran said Jones’ theory never came up at trial.

“In this case, there’s absolutely no evidence that anyone other than the rapist left semen in that little girl’s bed,” Moran said.

It could take several months for the appeals court to decide whether to review the case.

Read the full article.

Read more about forensic oversight.

Read more about evidence preservation.

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