Nearly 20 years after two very similar attempted rapes happened in Wisconsin, an effort to clear the man convicted in the first attack is mounting. Daniel Scheidell’s attorneys at the
Wisconsin Innocence Project
contend that the crimes, which happened five weeks apart in the same neighborhood, were too similar not to have been perpetrated by the same person.
Before Scheidell was convicted, his trial attorney wrote that a probation agent revealed the police believed there may have been a serial rapist in the area. The
Madison Journal Times
reported that although both victims were single white women who awoke in their homes around 5 a.m., straddled by an attacker who was armed with a knife and wearing a mask, police and prosecutors contend the attacks were committed by two different men and that Scheidell is guilty of the first one.
“That’s not common. Rapes don’t happen this way very often,” said Wisconsin Innocence Project Co-Director Carrie Sperling, who is fighting for a new trial for Scheidell, according to the
. “To have two of them together is just bizarre.”
New DNA evidence points to Joseph Stephen, a convicted sex offender, in the second attack and because the attacks are eerily similar, Sperling hopes the discovery will prompt a new trial for Scheidell, who is serving 25 years behind bars. Following the recent testing, Stephen was charged last month in the second attack. According to Sperling, evidence from that case went untested for years.
Scheidell “has been eligible for release for … maybe five years now, but he won’t be released because he won’t admit guilt and go into treatment. He’s been up (for parole) several times,” Sperling said, according to the
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