On Monday, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine pardoned two former prisoners based on DNA evidence of their innocence. Arthur Lee Whitfield was exonerated in 2004 but has remained in a legal limbo until his pardon became official this week. He served more than 22 years in prison before biological evidence in his case – previously believed to be lost – was located in the files of former forensic analyst Mary Jane Burton. The results proved Whitfield’s innocence and implicated the real perpetrator, who was in prison for another sexual assault.
Victor Anthony Burnette, who served eight years in prison for a 1979 rape, was also pardoned Monday based on evidence of his innocence. The Innocence Project is reviewing his case for possible inclusion in our database of DNA exonerations nationwide.
Read more about Whitfield and Burnette
and Virginia’s ongoing review of cases in which DNA testing could overturn a wrongful conviction. (Virginian-Pilot, 4/7/09)
Meanwhile, a Texas judge yesterday recommend that Timothy Cole, who died in prison in 1999 while served a 25-year sentence for a rape he didn’t commit, be fully exonerated based on DNA evidence that another man committee the crime.
Read more about Cole’s case and pending reforms to prevent future wrongful convictions in Texas here