Last week a federal judge granted Innocence Project of Florida client Jules Letemps a new trial. Letemps has been in prison for 26 years for a rape he insists he did not commit. Letemps’ attorneys say he was walking to work when the victim identified him as her attacker, but two alibi witnesses placed him at his home at the time of the crime.
District Judge Gregory Presnell ruled that Letemps has a reasonable claim of innocence and agreed his original defense attorneys were ineffective.
Working with the Innocence Project of Florida on Letemps’ case is Centurion Ministries, whose attorneys say blood testing (which was used by law enforcement before DNA testing became available) on semen found on the victim’s clothes was performed incorrectly. If the testing had been done correctly, the attorneys maintain that Letemps would have been excluded as the perpetrator.
“While it is true that this blood type evidence does not directly refute the victim’s identification of Letemps, the eyewitness testimony is not especially powerful, particularly in light of how vague the victim’s description was before she spotted Letemps down the street,” Presnell wrote. “In addition, the Supreme Court has noted that ‘eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions’ in the United States.”
The attorney general has 90 days to appeal the decision.
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