A former US sailor was acquitted Thursday with the help of DNA evidence after spending 33 years in prison, erroneously convicted of raping a woman and killing her husband in 1982.
Keith Harward was convicted on expert testimony that a bite mark on the wife matched his teeth imprint. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Three decades later, DNA tests have revealed that the rape and murder were carried out by a different sailor, who has since died in prison serving a sentence for another crime.
Harward, now 59, was convicted of entering a home in the city of Newport News, killing the husband with a crowbar and raping his wife while their three children slept nearby.
The Virginia Supreme Court wrote in its decision that it “vacates Harward’s convictions for murder, rape, forcible sodomy and robbery.”
In 2015, the United States exonerated 149 people, a record number that represents only a “drop in the bucket” of tens of thousands of wrongly convicted people, according to a February report by the University of Michigan Law School.
The 149 prisoners had served 14.5 years each on average.
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