Larry Bostic was exonerated 18 years after pleading guilty to a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, rape that DNA proved he didn't commit. He pled guilty to the crime to avoid a possible life sentence if convicted at trial. He brought about his own exoneration by filing a handwritten motion for DNA testing from prison.
At 4 a.m. on October 12, 1988, an African-American man with a knife attacked a 30-year-old woman as she returned home after using a payphone in Fort Lauderdale. The man led the woman to a secluded area behind a bar, where he forced her to remove her clothing and then raped her. He also stole $75 from a purse she was carrying, and then left the area.
The Identification and Guilty Plea
Police showed the victim a lineup of photographs of several men and she identified Bostic as the perpetrator. According to Bostic's appellate attorney, the victim told an investigator in 2007 that she had never seen the perpetrator during the 1988 crime, but identified Bostic because she believed she had seen him in the neighborhood days before the crime.
Bostic was arrested and charged with sexual battery and robbery. In 1989, he pled guilty to these crimes and was sentenced to eight years in prison followed by five years probation. He has since stated in appeals that he was "coerced" to plead guilty by both the prosecutor and his court-appointed attorney because he faced a possible life sentence in a jury trial.
Bostic was released on probation after three years in prison, but was arrested nine months later for an unrelated battery. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison for violating the probation from his 1989 conviction, and also pled guilty to the new battery charge. His sentence for the battery was 12 years, to run concurrent with the sentence for violating his probation.
In 2005, Bostic filed a handwritten motion from prison, requesting DNA testing on the victim's underwear and a rape kit collected after the 1988 crime. In June 2007, prosecutors agreed to conduct testing and sent the evidence to the Broward County Crime Lab for analysis. They received the results in August 2007: there were sperm cells on the vaginal swab in the rape kit, and the DNA profile of these cells did not match Bostic. Investigators interviewed the victim to confirm that she did not have other sexual partners in the days before the assault. She said she hadn't, and prosecutors joined with Bostic's appellate attorney in asking a Florida judge to dismiss the charges and vacate the convictions relating to the 1988 rape. By the time Bostic was released in September 2007, he was 51 years old and had served more than 17 years in prison.
Larry Bostic served three years for a rape he did not commit. He later pled guilty to an unrelated assault and received a 17 year sentence, based on his record, which included the wrongful conviction. He spent 18 years in prison in all, and his wrongful conviction was a factor in both sentences.