Nathaniel Hatchett was 17 years old when he was arrested for a 1996 Detroit area rape that he maintains he didn’t commit. He was convicted two years later and has been in prison ever since. But lawyers at the Innocence Project at Cooley Law School in Michigan have filed motions showing that DNA proves Hatchett’s innocence and arguing that he should be granted a new trial. DNA testing has shown that biological evidence from the crime scene does not match Hatchett.
“We’re hoping the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office will be reasonable and release Nathaniel right away because the tests show he never should have been convicted in the first place,” said Donna McKneelen, an assistant professor at the law school.
Hatchett was arrested by police two days later while driving the victim’s car in Detroit with four friends. The friends were eventually released.
McKneelen said there is a likely explanation for why Hatchett was in the car.
“We believe the attacker who raped the woman dumped the car at some point. Nathaniel and his friends encountered it, hot-wired the vehicle and went joy riding. That’s when they were stopped by the police,” she said.
Hatchett, who was driving the stolen car, later made a confession to Sterling Heights police, which was a main piece of evidence at the trial.
But the motion filed by Thomas M. Cooley Law School shows a psychological exam indicates Hatchett had a borderline mental disability. He was questioned for seven hours which added to the stress, the defense team claims.
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. (Macomb Daily, 03/20/08)
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