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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Himalayan Blunder!!!!!

Charges are to be dismissed today against a 39-year-old Goldsboro man who has spent nearly two decades in prison for a 1987 rape.

DNA testing has excluded Dwayne Allen Dail as the man who entered through the window of a Goldsboro home and raped a 12-year-old girl in 1987, Wayne District Attorney Branny Vickory said late Monday.

Vickory got the test results from the State Bureau of Investigation on Monday afternoon and plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges against Dail today.

"The science has proved that Mr. Dail is innocent," said Vickory, who worked in the district attorney's office when Dail was prosecuted. "He didn't do it. The evidence is so overwhelmingly strong, there's no need to wait."

The exoneration follows a lengthy inquiry by the nonprofit N.C. Center for Actual Innocence, which uncovered evidence that authorities thought had been destroyed after Dail's trial.

Dail was sentenced to two life sentences plus 18 years in 1989 on charges of first-degree rape and other charges stemming from the incident. The victim identified him, and hair found at the scene was found to be consistent with his.

But even prosecutors wondered about the case, Vickory said. The trial took place in the days before DNA testing, and the hair test could have been a match with many other Caucasian males.

Vickory said the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, Donald Strickland, and Dail's defense attorney had both singled Dail's case out as one that troubled them.

"They both over the years have talked about that case," Vickory said. "[Strickland] has mentioned several times that was the one case that always seemed to worry him the most."

The victim identified Dail from among a group of men she saw near her home days or weeks after the rape, Vickory said.

"The way everybody described it, she just froze and said 'That's the man, that's the man,' " Vickory said. "That led to very powerful evidence with the jury."

Dail never admitted guilt. Chris Mumma, director of the innocence center, said he had turned down a plea bargain that would have given him three years of probation.

"The jury thought he was arrogant in court," Mumma said. "He told me, 'Of course I was arrogant. I knew I was innocent.' "

The center, staffed by law and journalism students at several Triangle universities, took on the case in 2001. All of the students who looked into the case believed strongly in Dail's innocence. But Wayne County authorities were convinced all physical evidence had been destroyed.

Years later, Mumma decided to try one more time. A helpful clerk told her that one police officer, already deceased, had kept evidence from all of his cases. It turned out that officer had worked Dail's case, Mumma said.

A box with a nightgown, sheet and other evidence turned up in a bicycle closet, Vickory said.

Mumma said the lab has already matched DNA found on the nightgown to someone currently in prison.

She commended Vickory for his prompt response once her group approached him about the case.

"We get a thousand letters a year, and we have 12 on our chalkboard," Mumma said. "Dail was one of them."

Posted by Ajay :: 5:17 PM :: 0 comments

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