At 2:30 this afternoon, Joseph Abbitt walked out of a North Carolina courthouse a free man for the first time in 14 years, proven innocent through DNA testing. He was serving life in prison for a rape he didn’t commit, and a state judge today vacated his sentence and dropped all charges against him.
DNA testing completed this year shows that another man raped two teenage girls in their Winston-Salem home in 1991.
The North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence
represents Abbitt and has worked on his case for four years. Although much of the evidence collected in the case had been destroyed, the Winston-Salem Police Department had preserved critical biological evidence collected from the victims’ bodies – and tests on this evidence proved Abbitt’s innocence.
Abbitt becomes the
person exonerated in the United States through DNA testing and the
in North Carolina. His conviction was caused in part by eyewitness misidentifications – a factor in
more than 75% of wrongful convictions overturned through DNA testing
Man Cleared By DNA Evidence Goes Free
News & Observer:
DNA Test Clears Man of 1991 Rape Charges