On July 6, 1982, a middle-aged white woman returning home in Towson, Maryland was met with a brutal attack by a young African American man who snuck into her apartment. He raped her, then ran out of the apartment before the police were arrived. His khaki pants and a key were left behind. Three neighbors caught a glimpse of a man that looked like the perpetrator. This man was also African American and young, and was wearing khaki pants. The man’s name was Bernard Webster. He was arrested based on the description of the perpetrator given by the victim and the witnesses, even when he insisted that he did not rape her.
There were multiple factors that lead to Mr. Webster’s wrongful conviction. One of these factors was faulty forensic testing, according to the Innocence Project. A forensic scientist determined that bodily fluids on the bed contained type AB blood, and the rape kit found blood types A and B. The victim had type B blood, and Mr. Webster’s was type A. However, since forensic technology was not as advanced yet, there was no way to figure out the truth. The key that was left at the apartment looked like it could fit into Mr. Webster’s apartment door, which strongly swayed the court’s decisions towards a guilty verdict. Mr. Webster also had a criminal record prior to his recent arrest. He stole a car years before and dropped out of high school. According to the Baltimore Sun, he stole a pocketbook from a federal building in recent time, and was arrested. This was the incident that set the court’s decision into stone. On March 11, 1983, Mr. Webster was convicted of rape and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Forensic testing saw advancements after DNA started being used in the 1990s, according to the Baltimore Sun. The Innocence Project states that DNA testing after conviction became legal in Maryland in 2001, and the Office of the Public Defender acted to redo forensic testing for Mr. Webster’s case. With a judge’s approval, forensic slides made at GBMC while the victim received treatment were obtained, and saliva from Mr. Webster was collected. The DNA test results stated that Mr. Webster’s genetic information and the slides did not match. He was exonerated on November 7, 2002, after serving 19 years in prison.