Dwayne Allen Dail served 18 years in North Carolina prisons for a 1987 rape before DNA testing on crime scene evidence proved his innocence. He was released from prison in 2007 after serving nearly half his life behind bars.
The Crime And Investigation
On September 4, 1987, a man crawled through the window of a Goldsboro, North Carolina, apartment and raped a 12-year-old girl living there. The girl identified Dwayne Allen Dail as her attacker and he was charged with burglary, rape and other related charged. Hairs collected from the crime scene were submitted for forensic testing and an expert found that Dail’s hairs were microscopically consistent with the evidence from the crime.
Dail reportedly turned down an offer to plead guilty in exchange for three years of probation, and he went to trial in 1989. A jury heard that the victim had identified Dail as her attacker and also that forensic testing had shown the possibility that the hairs at the crime scene had come from him. The jury found him guilty as charged and he was sentenced to two terms of life in prison plus 15 years.
Dail filed numerous appeals over the years, and the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence began working on his case in 2001. Attorneys at the center requested testing on evidence from Dail’s case, but were told that all evidence introduced at Dail’s trial was returned to the Goldsboro Police Department and subsequently destroyed. However, when they asked for a repeated search, officers found a box of evidence, including the victim’s nightgown, that had been saved.
Officials at the Wayne County District Attorney’s Office agreed to send the evidence for DNA testing, and semen was discovered on the victim’s nightgown. The DNA profile from the semen did not match Dail, proving he was not the man who attacked the victim in 1987.
Dwayne Dail was released from custody on August 28, 2007, after a state court judge agreed to vacate his conviction and dismiss all charges against him. He was 39 when released and had served 18 years in prison. In October 2007 Dail received a pardon from Gov. Mike Easley based on his actual innocence. Dail received $370,000 in compensation from the State of North Carolina. In 2013, Dail settled a lawsuit against the City of Goldsboro for $7.5 million.