Darrell A. Copeland

In November 2006, following a car chase that resulted in a crash, a police officer found what he believed to be an unloaded pistol under the car seat of Darrell Copeland, a convicted felon.  The officer testified at Copeland’s trial that Copeland was in possession of the pistol, and Copeland was convicted in May 2007 of being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm.  He was sentenced to 5 years in prison.  After Copeland’s conviction, the Virginia Department of Forensic Science issued a certificate finding that the gun was a replica pistol, incapable of firing, and thus not a firearm under the applicable criminal statutes.  In 2008, Copeland petitioned the Virginia Court of Appeals for a writ of actual innocence.  His application was supported by the prosecution, and the court granted the writ in August 2008.  Copeland remained in prison on unrelated charges.

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State:Virginia
County:Chesapeake City
Most Serious Crime:Gun Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2006
Convicted:2007
Exonerated:2008
Sentence:5 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age:18
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No