News 12.10.07

Former death row inmate Nicholas Yarris celebrates four years of freedom


Nicholas Yarris

marked the fourth anniversary of his exoneration yesterday. Yarris was sentenced to death in Pennsylvania after being wrongfully convicted of rape and murder in 1983. He became one of the first Pennsylvania death row inmates to demand post-conviction DNA testing. Five rounds of testing were conducted throughout the 1990s without producing conclusive results. His long struggle to prove his innocence finally ended in 2003, when DNA testing on gloves found in the victim’s car as well as spermatozoa from the rape kit conclusively excluded Yarris as a suspect. He was the 13th person in the United States to be exonerated from death row by post-conviction DNA testing.

Yarris’ wrongful conviction was caused by unreliable science, eyewitness misidentification and jailhouse snitch testimony, factors common in wrongful conviction cases.

Learn more about the causes of wrongful convictions here

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To read more about Yarris’ case and life after exoneration,

visit his website here

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Other exoneration anniversaries this week:

Sunday:

Timothy Durham

, Oklahoma (Served 3.5 years, Exonerated 12/9/1997)

Wednesday:

James O’Donnell

, New York (Served 2 years, Exonerated 12/12/2000)

Thursday:

Billy James Smith

, Texas (Served 19 years, Exonerated 12/13/2006)

Saturday:

Clarence Elkins

, Ohio (Served 6.5 years, Exonerated 12/15/2005)

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