News 04.26.10

North Carolina Exoneree Wants Real Perpetrator To Be Found

Joseph Abbitt was exonerated in September, but he is still looking for closure on his wrongful conviction. Having been wrongfully convicted of raping two girls, he hasn’t received a pardon and the real perpetrator has yet to be identified.  Once DNA evidence proved Abbitt’s innocence, the District Attorney’s office and the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence filed a motion to vacate the conviction.  Less concerned about the pardon, Abbitt told the Winston-Salem Journal that finding the real perpetrators of the crimes would give him peace. 

After Abbitt’s exoneration, Chris Mumma, Abbitt’s attorney and the executive director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, began working on his pardon. She had asked Winston-Salem police to send evidence in the case to the State Bureau of Investigation and then to LabCorp of Research Triangle Park for additional testing that could lead to a new suspect.

That evidence was sent in October 2009, and Mumma said she is still waiting for results. She said she was told early on that there might be a suspect. She said she didn’t think it would take this long to get results.

“Had we known that we were looking at the end of April with uncertainty about what progress was being made in the case, we would have likely gone ahead and filed for the pardon in September,” she said.

Mumma said it is important to find who the rapist was so that Abbitt and the two victims can find some closure.

Captain David Clayton, who manages investigations for the Winston-Salem Police Department, said Abbitt’s is an important case to resolve but that the lab work isn’t back yet.  Sometimes it takes several months to get results, he said.

The police have also interviewed the victims, who are now adults, several times.  And, investigators have looked at reports of rapes from the same time frame in search of any similarities.

Abbitt now works for the Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice as an innocence coordinator. There, he works with families of inmates and assists with reviewing letters from inmates who say they were also wrongfully convicted.  


Read the full article here

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Read Abbitt’s case profile here

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