The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism commissioned Court Data Technologies of Madison to examine 10 years’ worth of electronic circuit court records to locate cases in which Wisconsin prisoners requested post-conviction DNA testing.Of the 35 cases in which post-conviction DNA testing was sought: • Twenty-three test requests were granted by judges, while 12 were denied.“Whether it’s proving someone’s guilt or someone’s innocence, in either case, it keeps us safer because if somebody is innocent, that means somebody who’s guilty is still out there, and we can use that evidence to get them off the streets.” Can’t catch all bad convictions Attorneys for the Innocence Project, housed at the University of Wisconsin Law School, praised the law but said it can’t detect all wrongful convictions.
A judge refused to overturn Bintz’s conviction, saying the semen from an unknown man found on the victim could have come from consensual sex before the murder – a fact the jury knew before convicting him.
The state Court of Appeals agreed, refusing to order a new trial.
That number could grow as the Wisconsin Innocence Project embarks next year on an 18-month 7,000 federally funded project to identify potential DNA exoneration cases and officials scramble to collect DNA profiles from 12,000 convicted felons discovered missing this fall from the state’s database.
Nationally, the New York City-based Innocence Project estimates that at least 245 people wrongfully convicted of murder, rape and other crimes have been released since 1989 at least in part on the strength of DNA evidence.
Post-conviction DNA testing also provided a break in a Milwaukee serial killer case.
Chaunte Ott was released in 2008 based on DNA test results that showed the unknown male DNA found on a young woman he was convicted of murdering also had been found on two other murder victims killed while Ott was in prison Testing expanded after 2001 law Seven of the nine vacated convictions occurred after 2001, when Wisconsin passed a law requiring that prisoners claiming innocence be allowed post-conviction DNA testing under certain circumstances.Details of cases in which prisoners were freed (download Word file).Three of the nine convictions overturned by DNA evidence in Wisconsin were in Dane County.• Eight of those requests resulted in overturned convictions, while one prompted a reduced sentence.• At least one request yielded results that implicated the prisoner.In addition to Shomberg, Ralph Armstrong was released this summer after nearly 30 years in prison for a murder that DNA and other evidence suggests may have been committed by his now-deceased brother.