New Orleans man wrongfully convicted of rape released from prison after 36 years in prison; others may be next
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A New Orleans man spent 36 years in prison for a rape he did not commit in 1986 before finally being released on Thursday.
According to Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO), a non-profit organization that helps wrongfully convicted.
« It’s not just about individuals and their choices, but the systems that enable them, » Walter’s attorney, IPNO’s chief legal officer, Richard Davis, said in a statement posted on Facebook Thursday. .
The nonprofit called Walter’s conviction « the longest known wrongful incarceration of a minor in Louisiana history and the 5th in United States history. »
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The perpetrator of the 1986 rape was wearing a hat and face covering at the time of the crime, and the victim identified Walter, who was 17 at the time, seven weeks later, according to INPO.
A serology test conducted in the 1980s did not identify Walter as a suspect in the case, but a jury convicted him, not knowing the test results, after a day-long trial. INPO, which took the case to the Civil Rights Division of the Orleans Parish Attorney’s Office, said Walter’s trial attorney did not obtain HIV evidence from witnesses, « and that the policeman’s analyst misrepresented his test results ».
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Judge Darryl Derbigny expressed his anger that the blood and semen evidence that could have cleared him never reached the jury.
“To say it was inadmissible is an understatement,” Derbigny told Walter, according to The Associated Press.
Walter’s case could highlight more wrongful convictions, according to the nonprofit.
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A report attached to an application to have Walter’s conviction overturned says there were « systematic deficiencies » in serological testing performed by the New Orleans Police Department and Coroner’s Office in the 1980s and in the early 1990s, prompting potential reviews « of every case in Orleans Parish in which ABO/secretor test results and testimony may have figured in a defendant’s conviction, » INPO said. in his Facebook post.
Lawyers said the rape victim is now dead. Emily Maw, an attorney in Williams’ office, said in court authorities contacted the victim’s son, who was not present, and expressed regret on his mother’s behalf about the wrongful conviction.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.