Innocence Project says exonerations nationwide show that testing should not be denied based on one of the men’s guilty plea
(OMAHA, NE – SEPTEMBER 5, 2007) – The Nebraska Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow in the cases of two men who are seeking DNA testing that could prove whether they committed a 1985 rape, robbery and murder. Thomas Winslow and Joseph White are seeking DNA testing on evidence from the crime, but the state opposes testing, in part because one of the men pled guilty to the crime. Lower courts denied DNA testing for both men.
The Innocence Project, a national organization that uses DNA testing to exonerate people who were wrongfully convicted, said today that the state and courts should not deny DNA testing on the basis of guilty pleas or confessions. Following is a statement from Alba Morales, Staff Attorney at the Innocence Project:
"The hard science of DNA can establish guilt or innocence with certainty. We don’t know whether Winslow and White committed this crime, but when DNA evidence can help reveal the truth, there is no reason for the state or courts to refuse testing.
"We have represented dozens of clients who admitted to crimes that DNA later proved they did not commit. Innocent people admit to crimes and even plead guilty for a variety of reasons; some of our clients were offered reduced sentences in exchange for guilty pleas, while others were intimidated by law enforcement or were mentally impaired.
"Nationwide, 207 people have been exonerated through DNA testing. Nearly 25% of them confessed or admitted to crimes they did not commit. Of those, 10 pled guilty to crimes that DNA now proves they did not commit. Scores of people who admitted to crimes before being proven innocent through DNA would still be in prison today if they were denied DNA testing.”
Read more about false confessions
Learn about people who admitted to crimes before DNA proved their innocence
The Innocence Project, which was founded by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld at Cardozo School of Law in 1992, is not involved in the Winslow and White cases but represents dozens of clients seeking DNA testing, addresses the causes of wrongful convictions (including false confessions), and tracks DNA exonerations nationwide.