DNA Testing Clears Man who Served 28 Years
Donald Eugene Gates stands outside a bus terminal while en route to Ohio Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009 in Phoenix. Gates was released from a federal prison in Tucson, Ariz. earlier today after serving 28 years for a rape and murder that DNA evidence revealed he
The AP via YellowBrix
December 16, 2009
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan Draper said she was unaware of the problems with Malone’s testimony until the defense filed its motion this month seeking to have Gates’ conviction thrown out.
Based on Malone’s report, prosecutors had claimed hairs taken from Gates and hairs found on the victim were “microscopically indistinguishable.”
Even leaving aside the allegations against Malone, the technique he relied on _ microscopic hair analysis _ has been discredited, Levick said. She cited a 2009 report by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences that said there was “no scientific support” for using hair comparisons for identification.
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Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, said judges, as well as prosecutors, need to be informed when crime lab analyses are called into question.
“The important part of all these exoneration cases is to learn lessons from them,” he said.
Gates asked for and got DNA testing in 1988. However, the DNA sample available at the time was insufficient to draw any conclusions with the technology then available.
Gates’ lawyers arranged for a University of Arizona law professor to meet him Tuesday and take him to the bus station after his release. Gates, who is from Akron, Ohio, said he planned to reunite with family in his home state.
If the judge exonerates Gates as expected, he will likely be entitled to compensation for the time spent in prison. As a former federal prisoner, he may be entitled to compensation under federal law, which provides $50,000 per year of incarceration. The District of Columbia has its own compensation statute, which leaves the amount up to the court.
Gates said he prayed for his release and never doubted it would come.
“My faith in God is very strong,” he said.
The one-time construction worker said he had no immediate plans.
“It’s all coming at me so fast,” he said. “I gotta think on it.”
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