In October, the Innocence Project filed a petition for a writ of actual innocence along with attorney Steven Rosenfield, the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP for Sherman Brown, who was convicted in 1970 of the murder of a four-year-old boy.
The boy’s mother testified at trial that, one afternoon in 1969, a man knocked on the door of her home and ultimately made his way into the home after asking for a drink of water. Once inside, he asked to have sex with her and when she refused, he struck her unconscious. When she regained consciousness, her underwear was removed, she had been stabbed, and her four-year-old had been stabbed to death.
Initially, the victim identified Brown’s father as her attacker, but subsequently stated that it was Brown who attacked her. DNA evidence from a vaginal smear slide taken at the hospital following the attack excludes both Brown and the woman’s husband.
Last month, the Virginia attorney general’s office asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition, focusing a significant portion of the argument on procedural issues, arguing that a chain of custody was not established, and questioning the DNA results.
The Innocence Project responded in a brief on Thursday, stating that a chain of custody has been established, that the Commonwealth’s attacks on Brown’s testing are wrong as a matter of science and its procedural arguments are wrong as a matter of law.
Read the Richmond Times-Dispatch coverage here.