In re: Scott (P)

The petitioner’s requested writ of actual innocence should be issued, based on the totality of the evidence. The petitioner was convicted of three offenses relating to a 1975 rape.

Trial established that the victim was attacked by a single perpetrator. Although the victim testified that she didn’t get a good look at her attacker, she assisted the police in creating a composite sketch of her attacker. In a second photo line-up presented to her a couple of months after the incident, the victim identified the petitioner as her rapist. She also identified him at trial and hasn’t retracted her testimony. At trial, two certificates of analysis were entered into evidence relating to samples of a semen stain taken from the victim’s jeans. The two analyses were contradictory. The petitioner presented alibi witnesses stating that he was at the witnesses’ home on the night of the rape.

After the petitioner was convicted, the Department of Forensic Science did a DNA test that revealed the same contributor for the sperm fractions found in both trial samples. This testing conclusively eliminated both the petitioner and the victim’s boyfriend as contributors of the sperm found on the victim’s jeans. It also matched a male profile from a vaginal swab taken from the victim within hours of the rape.

Upon reviewing the totality of the evidence, including records from the original case, the evidence presented at the original trial, the newly-discovered biological evidence, and the proffers made by the petitioner and the Commonwealth, the petitioner has proved, by clear and convincing evidence, all of the allegations required under Code § 19.2-327.3(A) and that no rational trier of fact would have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Petition for writ of actual innocence granted.

In re: Scott (P), No. 171286, Mar. 7, 2019. SCV (Goodwyn).

Categories: Opinions, Published, Supreme Court of Virginia

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