After serving nearly 20 years in prison for a rape and murder he didn't commit, Innocence Project client Steven Barnes may be fully exonerated tomorrow. Barnes and Innocence Project Staff Attorney Alba Morales will appear in Oneida County court tomorrow in Utica.
Barnes was released from prison in late November after DNA testing showed he is innocent. His conviction was vacated, but the indictment against him was not dismissed, meaning he could be retried for the crime at any time. The Oneida County District Attorney’s Office, with cooperation from the Innocence Project, has been reinvestigating the case since Barnes was released.
If the indictment against Barnes is dismissed, he will become the 227th person exonerated by DNA evidence.
Barnes' conviction is just one example of how improper or invalid forensic science can lead to wrongful convictions. His conviction was largely based on unvalidated forensic science, including soil comparison and analysis of an imprint allegedly left on the outside of Barnes’ truck by the victim’s jeans. He was found guilty of second-degree murder, rape and sodomy of a teenage girl 1985. However, test results conducted last year on materials collected from the victim’s body and clothing did not match Barnes, which led to his release from prison in November and tomorrow’s hearing that may exonerate him officially.
We’ll post more on the blog tomorrow after the hearing.
Today’s news coverage of Barnes’ case:
Utica Observer Dispatch:
Barnes’ charges to be dismissed Friday in teen's '85 murder