Monday marked the eighth anniversary of Herman Atkins’ exoneration in California. Atkins served 12 years in prison after he was wrongfully convicted in 1988 of a robbery and rape. After the crime in the spring of 1986, the victim was taken to the police station and shown several photos in an identification procedure. She did not identify anyone, but saw a photo of Atkins elsewhere in the station. After identifying the other photo, the victim was shown a photo lineup including Atkins and identified him again.
Eyewitness misidentification is the most common cause of wrongful conviction, playing a role in 75 percent of convictions overturned by DNA testing.
Read more about eyewitness misidentification here
Herman Atkins’ case was accepted by the Innocence Project in 1993. The evidence for DNA testing was found in 1995, but the prosecution refused to allow access to the evidence. In 1999, the Innocence Project filed a motion to compel the prosecution to allow DNA testing. The motion was finally granted and all DNA test results conclusively excluded Atkins from the crime. In February 2000, Herman Atkins was exonerated after spending 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Since his exoneration, Atkins has graduated from college and gotten married. He and his wife, Machara, have started the Life Interventions for Exonerees foundation to help exonerees get back on their feet after their release.
Other exoneration anniversary this week:
, California (Served 8 years, Exonerated 2/18/05)