Andrew Gossett is the 12th person officially exonerated by DNA testing in Dallas County since 2001, which is the same year Gossett first attempted to secure testing. He was finally released on January 2, 2007, and officially exonerated less than four months later.
On February 23, 1999, at about 9:30 p.m., the victim was waiting for the light to change at an intersection when a Caucasian man jumped into her car and pointed a gun at her. He demanded that she drive to a deserted industrial area where he vaginally raped her and forced her to perform oral sex on him. He then ordered the victim to drive them away, and then left her in her van at a street corner.
At the hospital, the victim described the perpetrator as having blue jeans, a plaid or dark shirt over a black T-shirt, a brown sports jacket, and a scar on his face. A surveillance videotape from a convenience store, a seven-minute walk from where the victim dropped off the perpetrator, showed a customer in the store wearing glasses, camouflage pants, and a light colored T-shirt under a blue plaid shirt.
Four hours after the assault, an officer was patrolling the area and saw Andrew Gossett rummaging through a parked pickup truck. The officer thought Gossett looked suspicious, but did not arrest him at the time. Gossett was wearing a plaid long-sleeved shirt, dark blue jeans, and was carrying a brown jacket. The officer later heard of this crime and an indecent exposure report on the radio, and went back to find Gossett the next day.
The victim identified Andrew Gossett from a photo lineup. Gossett did have a scar, though he was smaller in body size than she had described.
The Biological Evidence
The victim drove herself to the hospital immediately after the rape. A very small amount of sperm heads were seen on the vaginal swab and underwear. One sperm head was seen on the jeans in the crotch area. Despite the fact that advanced DNA technology available elsewhere at the time of trial may have been able yield a result, the Southwest Institute of Forensic Science reported that the sample was not sufficient for the lab’s DNA testing capacity.
Gossett told police that he was at his girlfriend’s apartment at the time, leaving twice to buy cigarettes and ice cream. He stated that he saw the officer look at him when he returned to the apartment after the second trip out. The surveillance tape at the convenience store shows a customer resembling Gossett entering the store, buying milk and ice cream, and asking about employment.
He was convicted on February 10, 2000 and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Gossett began seeking DNA testing in August 2001. After he finally got an order for DNA testing, test results on the vaginal swab in December 2006 concluded that he was innocent. He was released on January 2, 2007, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted his application for habeas corpus relief a few months later, officially exonerating him. As of 2012, he had received $391,000 in state compensation.