Earlier this week a 39-year-old Dallas,Texas man – Stephen Brodie – was exonerated
of the rape of a 5-year-old girl after a judge determined he was innocent. He was released the next day, and his dad was there to greet him as he exited the jail.
On Monday, a judge ruled Brodie had been wrongly prosecuted despite a lack of physical evidence. In many states, including Michigan, individuals may be convicted of criminal sexual conduct without any physical evidence of an assault or any other supporting evidence. Here, not only was there no evidence, but prosecutors had contradictory hair and finger print evidence that conclusively excluded Brodie as the perpetrator, yet they failed to turn this evidence over to his defense attorney. Police officers also knew that a fingerprint found at the victim’s home did not match Brodie’s.
The Dallas County District Attorney’s office issued an apology this week.
Deaf since childhood, Brodie’s imprisonment was largely a result of a confession he gave after being questioned for hours without an interpreter. Studies by the Innocence Project show that in many cases, innocent people confess during police interrogation as a result of duress, coercion, diminished capacity, and ignorance of the law. Brodie later told The Associated Press he had felt scared and pressured. The judge admitted the confession, and believing it the best option, Brodie pleaded guilty to assault and accepted a five-year sentence. He then served two additional sentences for failure to register as a sex offender. Now that he has been exonerated, Brodie no longer needs to place his name of the sex crimes registry.
Tragically, Brodie spent 10 years of his life behind bars as the result of a crime he didn’t commit. Experts estimate that nearly 5,000 wrongfully convicted men and woman are locked up today in Michigan’s prisons.
If you have been charged or arrested for a sex crime, it’s crucial you contact an attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and fight for your future. For more information, call Grabel & Associates, Michigan’s premier sex crimes defense firm.