We all like to think that the system works. Those who are not guilty of crimes stay out of jail and those who are guilty are sentenced appropriately. But tragically, the criminal justice system isn't perfect. That imperfection that exists among investigators and within the trial process can send innocent people to jail.
At least one instance of an innocent man being sent to prison has a happy ending. A Colorado suspect was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after being found guilty of the 1994 sexual assault and murder of a woman. He has maintained his innocence from arrest until today, and those years of insistence have finally been validated because of a DNA test that has finally set the man free.
Officials were able to collect DNA evidence from the Colorado murder scene. Semen found at the crime scene didn't match the suspect from the beginning, but newer DNA tests were able to find a supposed match to the DNA. The semen reportedly matched other evidence found from a similar rape/murder crime that took place in Colorado several years before the 1994 crime.
The innocent man was released from prison late last month and now faces freedom but also the daunting reality of living in a society that has moved on while he's been wrongfully locked up. The suspect whom is believed to be the man responsible for the 1994 rape and murder is currently serving a life sentence for another similar crime.
The freed man's lawyer suspects that his client wound up in prison for the severe crime because of a jury motivated by the wrong goal. The jurors wanted to hold someone accountable for the violent crime when they should have been more concerned about holding the guilty person accountable for the crime.
Source: Daily Camera, "DNA evidence clears Colorado man who has served 18 years of life sentence for murder," Jessica Fender and Nancy Lofholm, April 30, 2012