So far this year, 13 people around the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing after serving more than 200 combined years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. At least 10 more people have been cleared by DNA but are waiting for their exonerations to become official.
Here are the stories of those exonerated so far in 2008:
Michael Blair was convicted and sentenced to death in Texas based on improper forensic testimony and several eyewitness misidentifications. He served nearly 14 years on Texas death row for a murder he didn’t commit.
Kennedy Brewer was sentenced to death in 1995 for a child murder he didn’t commit. He was freed when DNA testing secured by the Innocence Project led to the identity of the real perpetrator. His exoneration also led to critical reforms on handling evidence and state oversight for autopsies.
Dean Cage was exonerated by DNA testing in Chicago after spending 12 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit.
Charles Chatman served 27 years in Texas prison for a rape he didn’t commit before DNA testing secured by the Innocence Project of Texas set him free.
Nathaniel Hatchett was 17 years old when he was arrested for a carjacking and rape he didn’t commit. He served 10 years in Michigan before he was cleared.
Arthur Johnson spent 16 years in Mississippi prison for a rape he didn’t commit before DNA testing won by the Innocence Project New Orleans led to his release.
Rickey Johnson served 25 years in Louisiana prison for a rape he didn’t commit before the Innocence Project secured DNA testing that proved his innocence. The test results pointed to the identity of a Louisiana inmate who was convicted of committing another rape in the same neighborhood after Johnson was convicted.
Robert McClendon was exonerated by DNA in August in a joint project between the Ohio Innocence Project and the Columbus Dispatch. He spent 17 years in Ohio prison for a crime he didn’t commit before he was cleared.
Thomas McGowan served 23 years in Texas prison for a rape he didn’t commit before DNA testing obtained by the Innocence Project proved his innocence. He was convicted based on a faulty identification procedure.
Steven Phillips was exonerated in October after serving more than two decades in Texas prison for a series of rapes he didn’t commit. DNA testing obtained on Phillips’ behalf by the Innocence Project pointed to the identity of the real perpetrator of the crime.
Ronnie Taylor was convicted in 1993 of a rape he didn’t commit based on faulty forensic tests at the troubled Houston crime lab. His exoneration became official in January, just days after he married his longtime fiancee Jeanette Brown. The couple now lives in Atlanta.
Patrick Waller served more than 15 years in Texas prison for a rape he didn’t commit. He is the 21st person cleared by DNA testing in Dallas County.
Joseph White, exonerated in November, was the first person cleared by DNA testing in Nebraska history. His five co-defendants are awaiting pardons from the governor in order to be fully exonerated.