News 09.27.16

Deceased Innocence Project Client Nathaniel Epps Garners National Media Attention

By Innocence Staff

In his column Case in Point, the Marshall Project’s Andrew Cohen highlighted the cases of Innocence Project client Nathaniel Epps and Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project client Percell Warren, both of whom died in prison waiting for DNA evidence to exonerate them of a brutal 1996 rape and assault.

Epps and Warren were convicted based solely on questionable testimony by an informant and a problematic identification by the victim. They were sentenced to 153 and 160 years, respectively.

Warren died in prison in 2012, shortly after he and Epps filed motions seeking post-conviction DNA testing. Testing was ultimately granted and showed the presence of sperm from someone other than the defendants on the jeans that the victim wore to the hospital immediately after the rape.

In June, the Innocence Project submitted a brief to the Virginia Supreme Court with the results of the last round of DNA testing. The Virginia Attorney General’s Office opposed the petition, claiming that the sperm did not necessarily come from the perpetrators of the crime, speculating that the sperm could have been from a prior consensual encounter or transferred from someone else’s sperm-stained garment during laundering.

An important point that Cohen’s article did not discuss is that the Innocence Project submitted a reply brief showing that the attorney general’s alternative theories for the source of the sperm were not credible. The victim testified she had not had a sexual relationship for nearly a year, and DNA testing excluded her ex-boyfriend of many years as the source of the foreign sperm. In addition, the location of the sperm—found in the crotch of the victim’s pants—and the results of testing on other samples from the jeans showed that the sperm excluding the defendants and the victim’s ex-boyfriend was not from laundry transference.

Before the court could rule, Epps also died, shortly following a liver cancer diagnosis. His family held his funeral last week. They have created a fundraising page to pay for the services: https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Soh0qf

Read Monday’s edition of Case in Point here.

Hear Cohen speak about the case on the Takeaway here.

Read more about the case here.

 

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  1. Monica Wimberly says:

    I am Blessed that I am led by God to help with the Innocent Project. I am here to help in any way possible. My youngest son died in prison he was not guilty and he was given life plus twenty years. We plea bargained and settled for 55 years. His co-defendant that was older than him turned states evidence on him believing as a juvenile (age15) he would be tried as a juvenile and not get much time. That is not what happened. He was tried as an adult. My sons finger prints were not on the gun. My son became very ill in prison and he was moved to Florida (Federal Prison) after spending 25 years of his youth and adult life in prison.
    I did not know much in the 90’s when my son was arrested but with every breath in my body I vow to help other men that that find themselves in that same situation.
    The co-defendant which committed the crime got out on parole only to rape a young girl now he is back to do some real time for his crimes.
    May God Bless the work of the Innocent Project and everyone that is involved In Jesus name Amen.

  2. Dr.Adenike Ogunshe says:

    I’m sorry Desta, I strongly disagree with your comments.
    For crying out loud, inhuman actions should not be downplayed to score a point about another unfair action.
    I may be wrong but I consider clinical experimental trials mostly voluntary and bound by ethical permit and informed consents. Anything otherwise is criminal and should be legally treated.
    In my candid opinion, Innocent Project for wrongfully convicted seems much too needed for many in almost all countries of the world. Who goes through it feel it!
    Thanks.

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