September 16, 2009
Conviction challenged in child rape case
Science could clear man after 23 years
BY JOE SWICKARD
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Karl Vinson's family hopes that science will redeem its faith and convince the authorities to free him after 23 years in prison.
"We knew -- knew -- that he was innocent all along," said Vinson's brother Robert Vinson. "With this scientific proof -- once they see it and it's laid out for them -- they'll do the right thing and get on board."
The Innocence Project at the University of Michigan Law School, in a motion filed Monday in Wayne County Circuit Court, said it has new scientific evidence that Vinson was not the man who crawled through a window in 1986 to rape a 9-year-old Detroit girl in her bed.
Vinson's innocence is "a slam dunk ... a scientific certainty," said David Moran, a U-M law professor who heads the project, which works to overturn wrongful verdicts.
Moran said prosecutors received their findings in June. No hearing date has been set.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said Tuesday she has supported the Innocence Project in other cases, but only after months of study.
"However, in this case the evidence is not clear-cut," she said. "Mr. Moran will have to file his motion and let a judge decide whether to grant it."
At issue are the forensic tests that tied Vinson, now 54, to the chilling 1986 crime.
Before DNA testing was used widely in courts, forensic investigators used blood typing of body fluids like blood, saliva and semen found at a scene to compare with suspects' blood type. But the fluids of a small group of people, called non-secretors, don't have blood type markers.
Vinson became a suspect in the rape because his former wife had babysat for the victim some years earlier. The child identified him as her attacker.
The attack left type O stains on the bedding. The child was type O, the most common. Vinson was tested as a non-secretor.
At trial, the prosecutor argued that as a non-secretor, Vinson couldn't be ruled out because his semen wouldn't have left identifiable evidence.
The Innocence Project said testing this year by two independent labs clears Vinson, who is serving a 50-year term.
The testing "conclusively shows that Mr. Vinson is an AB secretor, contradicting prosecution witness testimony and evidence used against Mr. Vinson at trial," the project said in its legal filing.
The project said the new tests indicates the attacker was also a secretor, but with blood type O semen.
Contact JOE SWICKARD: 313-222-8769 or email@example.com
||Truth in Justice