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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

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U.S. Attorney’s Office Says DNA Evidence
Exonerates Man Convicted of 1981 Rape
- Office Calls For Vacating Conviction on Grounds of Actual Innocence -

     WASHINGTON - The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia today joined in a motion to vacate the 1981 conviction of Kirk L. Odom, based on the grounds of his actual innocence in the rape of a woman who was attacked and robbed during a home invasion.

     Mr. Odom, now 49, was convicted in September 1981, following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, of two counts of first-degree burglary while armed, rape while armed, sodomy, and armed robbery. He was sentenced in January 1982 to a prison term of 20 to 66 years. He spent a total of about 22 years in prison.

     The victim, then in her twenties, was asleep when a single intruder came into her bedroom at 6 a.m. on February 24, 1981 and sexually assaulted her. DNA evidence, not available at the time of the trial, has conclusively established that Mr. Odom did not commit the crimes.

     A subsequent search of the DNA profile in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) turned up a match to another individual who has previously been convicted of a sex offense. At the time of the offense, there was a six-year statute of limitations on serious sex offenses in the District of Columbia.

     “Thirty years ago, Kirk Odom suffered a terrible injustice,” U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said today. “He was wrongfully convicted of a rape that he did not commit and spent more than two decades in prison as a result. DNA analysis has now provided evidence that a convicted sex offender – not Mr. Odom – committed this outrageous attack. Though we can never give him back the years that he lost, we can give Mr. Odom back his unfairly tarnished reputation. Three decades ago, law enforcement got it wrong: Mr. Odom did not commit this crime. We have asked the court to declare Mr. Odom innocent. This exoneration reinforces the importance of the task force we created in early 2010 to pore through old records to identify wrongful convictions. We continue to urge defense lawyers – as we have several times over the past two years – to come forward with any information about wrongful convictions based on questionable hair evidence. This case also reinforces the importance of eliminating the statute of limitations on sex crimes. It is never too late to secure justice – even if that means correcting a grave injustice from decades earlier.”

     During Mr. Odom’s trial, a hair found on the victim’s nightgown was said to be microscopically matched to the defendant’s hair. Mitochondrial DNA testing has now established that the hair did not come from Mr. Odom. In addition, nuclear DNA analysis has established that Mr. Odom is not the source of semen that was found on a pillowcase and a robe after the crime.

     In February 2011, the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia filed a motion for post-conviction DNA testing under the Innocence Protection Act. The U.S. Attorney’s Office worked with the Metropolitan Police Department to locate the decades-old evidence and undertake the series of laboratory tests that ultimately established Mr. Odom’s actual innocence of the crimes.





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