February 18, 2008 By Wallin & Klarich

Ask John Jerome White. He might have a somewhat different view on the matter.

According to a recent press release from the Georgia Innocence Project, Mr. White was convicted of brutally raping an elderly woman in Georgia in 1980 when he was just 20 years of age.

Mr. White was sentenced to life in prison. In 1990, ten years after his conviction, Mr. White was paroled, however, being released from prison as a convicted sex offender threw Mr. White into a downward spiral, and his parole was eventually revoked, and he was sent back to state prison to serve his full life sentence.

Apparently the strongest evidence against Mr. White at his trial was hairs recovered from the crime scene. The hairs were compared by authorities using “microscopic analysis,” which was the best technology available in 1980. “Microscopic analysis” showed that the hairs at the crime scene belonged to Mr. White, thereby sealing his fate – or so it would seem.

Thanks to the hard work of the Georgia Innocence Project, the hairs were re-tested by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation using modern DNA technology. The re-test showed conclusively that the hairs do NOT belong to Mr. White, but they apparently belonged to another man, who is currently under investigation by law enforcement for this crime.

It would seem too that Mr. White has a much better chance at “making it” this time around. Mr. White stated that from age 20 he “was raised on the chain gang, and [he] didn’t know how to make my way once [he] got out.” The press release stated that “[a]long with Mr. White’s family, the Georgia Innocence Project’s Life After Exoneration program will now work to help him make the transition back to society. Mr. White says, now that he is exonerated of a brutal crime and relieved of the sex offender status he has carried for nearly 30 years, he is determined to rebuild his life.”

So, the next time you hear of a case where “scientific” evidence “conclusively” shows that a given defendant is guilty of committing a crime, remember Mr. White’s case and don’t be afraid to look at “scientific” evidence with a somewhat skeptical eye.

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