Innocent Wisconsin man freed after wrongly convicted

Deoxyribose nucleic acid, or DNA, provides a unique chemical fingerprint for each individual. Advances in technology allow for those accused of a crime to compare their DNA to any evidence found at the crime scene. DNA can be found in various materials, including hair samples, saliva and semen. Comparing DNA at a crime scene to that of a suspect could help prove the suspect did not commit the crime.

In some cases, DNA can be used to help prove the innocence of those accused, convicted and serving sentences for crimes they did not commit. This was exemplified in Wisconsin with the case of Joseph Frey.

Example of DNA Proving Innocence

Joseph Frey was accused of entering a woman’s bedroom and raping her at knifepoint. The victim was unable to conclusively identify Frey as her attacker. Frey fought for his innocence, repeatedly attempting to dismiss the charges. In one attempt, he noted that the defense destroyed evidence which could help prove his innocence. The defense had destroyed pubic hair found at the scene prior to comparing it to a sample from Frey. The defense also destroyed the evidence gathered from the sexual assault kit.

The motion to dismiss was denied. The court claimed the destruction of evidence was inadvertent. Frey was charged and convicted of first-degree sexual assault, false imprisonment and burglary.

The Wisconsin Innocence Project investigated his case in 2011, almost 17 years after Frey was falsely convicted for these crimes. The group was able to find the semen-stained sheets that had been lost in the back of a storage cabinet. A DNA test was conducted and the results found that the semen belonged to James Crawford, a man convicted of various rapes in the area. Once this information was revealed, Frey was released.

An Appeal Can Help in Many Situations

Those wrongly accused of crimes may consider an appeal. The appeals process refers to the courtroom proceeding used in an attempt to overturn a civil judgment or criminal conviction. This process can offer an opportunity for a retrial if the court determines that a legal mistake was made during the case that impacted the jury’s decision or the sentence imposed by the court.

Appealing a criminal conviction can lead to justice, even if it takes multiple attempts. If you were wrongly convicted of a crime, contact an experienced criminal convictions attorney. This attorney will be able to discuss your legal options and better ensure your rights are protected.