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Exonerations Resulting from NIJ Postconviction DNA Testing Funding

Date Published
October 1, 2012

The Justice for All Act of 2004 authorized the establishment of the Kirk Bloodsworth Postconviction DNA Testing Grant Program.

This competitive grant program, Postconviction Testing of DNA Evidence, provides funding to states to help defray the costs associated with postconviction DNA testing. States may use funds in cases involving violent felony offenses (as defined by state law) in which actual innocence might be demonstrated. Funds may be used to review the cases and to locate and analyze biological evidence associated with them.
The goals of the program are to:

  1. Review appropriate postconviction cases to identify those in which DNA testing could prove the actual innocence of a person convicted of a violent felony offense(s) as defined by state law.
  2. Locate biological evidence associated with such postconviction cases.
  3. Perform DNA analysis of appropriate biological evidence.

Though exonerations are not the sole measure of program success, the  exonerations listed below have resulted from NIJ's funding and the hard work of the grantees. 

List of Exonerations

Exoneree State Grantee
Award Number
Year of Release
Year of Conviction
Time Served
(Years)
Charges

Sentence
Paul Jenkins MT Boise State University 2018
1995
23 Murder, Kidnapping, Robbery

100 years
Freddie Joe Lawrence MT Boise State University
2016-DY-BX-0006
2018
1995
23 Murder, Kidnapping, Robbery

100 years
Horace Roberts CA Governor's Office of Emergency Services
2016-DY-BX-0007
2018
1999
19 Murder

15 to life
LeDura Watkins MI Western Michigan University
2015-DY-BX-K008
2017
1976
40 Murder

Life
Richard Beranek WI The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
2013-DY-BX-K404
2017
1990
27 Rape

243 years
Guy Miles CA Governor's Office of Emergency Services
2016-DY-BX-0007
2017
1999
18 Robbery

75-Life
Dan Scheidell WI The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
2013-DY-BX-K404
2017
1995
20 Sexual Assault, Burglary/Unlawful Entry

25 years
Knolly Brown NC North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts
2012-DY-BX-K001
2016
2009
4 First Degree Rape, First Degree Kidnapping

5 years - 6 years and 9 months in Prison
Malcolm Bryant MD State of MD, Governor's Office of Crime Control & Prevention
2012-DY-BX-K005
2016
1999
17 Murder, Illegal Use of a Weapon

Life in Prison
Daryl Dwayne Holloway WI The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
2013-DY-BX-K404
2016
1993
24 2 Charges Sexual Assault, 2 Charges Robbery

120 years
Kimberly Long CA California Governor's Office of Emergency Services 
2014-DY-BX-K002
2016
2005
11 Second Degree Murder

15-Life
Mark Maxson IL Cook County State's Attorney's Office
2015-DY-BX-K007
2016
1994
24 First Degree Murder, Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault

Life without Parole
Charles Palmer IL Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
2012-DY-BX-K004
2016
2000
18 Murder

Life
William Richards CA California Governor's Office of Emergency Services 
2014-DY-BX-K002
2016
1997
23 First Degree Murder

25 years - Life
Christopher Abernathy IL Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
2012-DY-BX-K004
2015
1987
28 First Degree Murder, Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault, Armed Robbery

Life
Donovan Allen WA Washington State Patrol
2013-DY-BX-K005
2015
2002
15 Aggravated First Degree Murder

Life without Parole
Angel Gonzalez IL Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
2012-DY-BX-K004
2015
1995
20 Sexual Assault, Kidnapping

40 years
Edward McInnis NC North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts
2012-DY-BX-K001
2015
1988
27 First Degree Rape, First Degree Burglary, Armed Robbery

Life + 20 years
Joseph Sledge NC North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts
2012-DY-BX-K001
2015
1978
37 2 Murders

2 Life Sentences
Luis Vargas CA Governor's Office of Emergency Services
2013-DY-BX-K003
2015
1999
16 Rape, Kidnapping, Sodomy by Force

55 years to Life in Prison
Leon Brown NC North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts
2012-DY-BX-K001
2014
1984
30 First Degree Murder, First Degree Rape

Death
Michael Hanline CA Governor's Office of Emergency Services
2013-DY-BX-K003
2014
1980
36 First Degree Murder

Life without Parole
Henry McCollum NC North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts
2012-DY-BX-K001
2014
1984
30 First Degree Murder, First Degree Rape

Death
Uriah Courtney CA Governor's Office of Emergency Services
2011-DY-BX-K001
2013
2006
7 Kidnapping, Rape, Assault, Robbery, False Imprisonment

Life
Jeramie Davis WA Washington State Patrol
2010-DY-BX-K404
2013
2008
5 First Degree Murder, Burglary, First Degree Trafficking Stolen Property

40
Garry Diamond VA Virginia Department of Forensic Science
2008-DN-BX-K128
2013
1977
36 Rape, Sodomy

15 years
Joseph Frey WI Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance
2011-DY-BX-K006
2013
1994
19 Four Counts First Degree Sexual Abuse, Burglary Armed with a Dangerous Weapon, False Imprisonment

102 years
Senaca Malone WI Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance
2011-DY-BX-K006
2013
2008
5 First Degree Intentional Homicide

Life
Terry Vollbrecht WI Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance
2011-DY-BX-K006
2013
1989
22 Murder, Sexual Assault

Life
Johnny Williams CA Governor's Office of Emergency Services
2011-DY-BX-K001
2013
2000
13 2 counts Forcible Lewd Conduct Against a Child Under 14, Attempted Rape

16 years
Bennett Barbour VA Virginia Department of Forensic Science
2008-DN-BX-K128
2012
1978
34 Rape

10 years
Robert Dewey CO Colorado Attorney General
2009-DN-BX-K242
2012
1996
16 Felony Murder

Life without Parole
Willie J. Grimes NC State of North Carolina
2009-DN-BX-K247
2012
1988
24 2 counts First Degree Rape, Second Degree Kidnapping

Life
Darrin Hill LA Louisiana Department of Justice
2009-DN-BX-K245
2012
1999
13 Aggravated Rape, Attempted Aggravated Crime Against Nature, Kidnapping, Armed Robbery

Committed to Mental Hospital
Calvin Wayne Cunningham VA Virginia Department of Forensic Science
2008-DN-BX-K128
2011
1981
30 Rape and Burglary with Intent to Commit Rape

20 years
Thomas Haynesworth VA Virginia Department of Forensic Science
2008-DN-BX-K128
2011
1984
27 Rape, Sodomy, Abduction, Use of Firearm, Attempted Robbery

74
Kenneth Kagonyera NC State of North Carolina
2009-DN-BX-K247
2011
2001
10 First Degree Murder

12-15 years
Johnny Pinchback TX Texas Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division
2008-DN-BX-K169
2011
1984
27 2 Counts Aggravated Sexual Assault

99 years
Kerry Porter KY Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet
2008-DN-BX-K184
2011
1998
14 Murder

60 years
Robert Wilcoxson NC State of North Carolina
2009-DN-BX-K247
2011
2002
9 First Degree Murder

12-16 years
Larry Davis WA Washington Department of Commerce
2008-DN-BX-K127
2010
1993
17 First Degree Kidnapping, First Degree Burglary, Accomplice to First Degree Rape

20.5 years
Alan Northrop WA Washington Department of Commerce
2008-DN-BX-K127
2010
1993
17 First Degree Rape, First Degree Kidnapping, First Degree Burglary

23.5 years
Michael VonAllmen KY Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet
2008-DN-BX-K184
2010
1982
11 Sexual Assault, Robbery

35 years
John Kenneth Watkins AZ Arizona Criminal Justice Commission
2008-DN-BX-K145
2010
2004
6 Sexual Assault

14 years
Victor Burnette VA Virginia Department of Forensic Science
2008-DN-BX-K128
2009
1979
30 Rape, Burglary

25 years
Willie Davidson VA Virginia Department of Forensic Science
2008-DN-BX-K128
2005
1981
24 Rape, Sodomy, Robbery

20 years
Phillip Thurman VA Virginia Department of Forensic Science
2008-DN-BX-K128
2005
1985
20 Rape, Abduction, Assault

31 years
Glenn Payne CA Governor's Office of Emergency Services
2016-DY-BX-0007
2005
1990
15 Child Sex Abuse

27 years
Damien Mills NC State of North Carolina
2009-DN-BX-K247
2013
2001
10 Murder

12 years
Larry Williams NC State of North Carolina
2009-DN-BX-K247
2012
2002
10 Murder

10 years
Teddy Isbell NC State of North Carolina
2009-DN-BX-K247
2006
2003
3 Conspiracy to Commit Armed Robbery

3 years

[1] The exoneration of Malcolm Bryant was received after the close of the award and not reported in any of the reports. The federal grant funding that had been awarded to the University of Baltimore Innocence Project Clinic was utilized to pay for the DNA testing and the litigation support that resulted in the exoneration.

[2] Prior to the Writ, Cunnigham was imprisoned due to a 4 year sentence on an unrelated charge.

[3] NY Innocence Project paid for testing.

[4] NON-DNA: The State of North Carolina’s used NIJ funds to review Mr. Grimes’ case, but the biological evidence used to convict Grimes was presumed destroyed or lost. The North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence and the State’s Innocence Inquiry Commission compelled the local police department to locate the files and evidence. Though they did not find the biological evidence, they did find a latent fingerprint card containing prints from the victim’s kitchen where the assailant was known to have touched. The fingerprints did not match Grimes, but this

evidence had been withheld until the trial. Grimes’ defense attorney requested, unsuccessfully, to have the two fingerprints sent to the FBI for comparison. Only in 2011 were the two fingerprints finally uploaded to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System where they hit on the case’s original suspect.

[5] Accepted new plea deal in 2012 to avoid new trial.

[6] Although the Commission’s investigation and DNA testing resulted in the release of two individuals, only one of them, Mr. Leon Brown, was a Commission claimant, which is why Mr. McCollum is not reflected in our report

[7] Accepted new plea deal in 2012 to avoid new trial.

[8] The DNA analysis produced inconclusive results. However, during the reinvestigation, the Kentucky Innocence Project discovered new evidence supporting Mr. VonAllmen’s claim of innocence. A Jefferson County judge vacated Mr. VonAllmen’s conviction, stating that the evidence shows he did not commit the crimes.

National Institute of Justice, "Exonerations Resulting from NIJ Postconviction DNA Testing Funding," October 1, 2012, nij.ojp.gov:
http://nij.ojp.gov/topics/articles/exonerations-resulting-nij-postconviction-dna-testing-funding
Date Created: October 1, 2012