The legal team representing the four men -- which includes The Innocence Project senior attorney Karen Thompson and Tepfer from the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School -- contend that their DNA proof of his involvement is virtually incontrovertible.
Based on Dement’s testimony, all three men were convicted. Philip Barnett and Black received 40-year sentences, while Nathaniel Barnett received a 36-year sentence. Dement remains imprisoned, according to court records and interviews with defense attorneys.
Then, in 2016, a group of defense lawyers from two non-profit legal organizations, the Innocence Project and the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School, got involved in the cases.
They convinced a court to approve new DNA tests using more modern technology unavailable at the time of the initial investigation.
When the DNA was entered into the FBI’s DNA CODIS database and came back as a match for the sex offender, the defense lawyers sought out two of that man's ex-wives and his current wife, and submitted their statements to the court.
“I’ve been doing this for ten years, and I’ve been involved in, honestly, dozens of exonerations, and there’s not a single case where I have seen where there’s more powerful post-conviction forensic evidence – DNA evidence – that proves the innocence of these four men. This is the type of evidence that wrongful conviction lawyers dream of getting,” he said.
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