Friday, 8 April 2016

The DNA evidence implicates another sailor in the deadly crowbar bludgeoning of a shipyard welder and the rape of his wife.
18:44, UK,Friday 08 April 2016
Keith Allen Harward
A former sailor who spent 33 years in prison for rape and murder has been freed after DNA evidence exonerated him.
Keith Allen Harward, now 60, walked out of prison on Friday a day after he was cleared by the Virginia Supreme Court.
"That's the worst part about it, my parents," he told reporters outside. "It killed them. It devastated them." 
Jesse Perron, a shipyard welder, was bludgeoned to death with a crowbar and his wife was raped as their three children slept nearby on 14 September 1982 in the naval port of Newport News.
Jerry Crotty
The woman was bitten on the leg by the attacker, who she said was baby-faced and wore a US Navy uniform.
Harward's ship, the USS Carl Vinson, was docked nearby at the time.
Harward fell under suspicion after he ended up in court a year later for biting his girlfriend, Gladys Bates, during a fight.
He was indicted and prosecutors produced two experts who told his trial the defendant's teeth matched marks left on the raped woman's leg.
Keith Allen Harward with a former girlfriend
Harward was convicted in 1983 of capital murder, but the jury spared him a death sentence.
The high court wrote in its decision on Thursday granting a writ of actual innocence that it "vacates Harward's convictions for murder, rape, forcible sodomy and robbery".
New DNA tests failed to identify his genetic profile at the crime scene.
Sailors man the rails of the USS Carl Vinson, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, as it departs its home port in San Diego, California
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said DNA evidence instead implicates another sailor who was on the USS Carl Vinson.
That suspect is Jerry Crotty, who died in an Ohio prison in June 2006, where he was serving a sentence for abduction and attempted burglary.
Virginia's attorney general said: "It's just heartbreaking to think that more than half of (Harward's) life was spent behind bars when he didn't belong there.
"The Commonwealth can't give him back those years, but we can say that we got it wrong, that we're sorry, and that we're working to make it right."
Harward's name has been removed from Virginia's sex offender registry.
The Innocence Project, which took up the case, says his conviction shows why bite-mark evidence is so unreliable.
Harward is the 25th wrongful conviction or indictment based on bite-mark evidence since 2000, said the organisation.