The victim was getting ready for work in her apartment when she heard a knock at the door. It was a black man claiming to be her upstairs neighbor and requesting to use the phone. The victim let him into her apartment. The man then stole the money from her purse, tied a scarf around the victim, and sexually assaulted her. Anthony Hicks was stopped a few days after the crime on a traffic violation and turned into a suspect when someone in jail thought he looked like the police sketch.
Five hairs were recovered from the bedroom in the victim’s apartment. A forensic analyst testified that five Negroid hairs found in the victim’s apartment were “consistent” with samples provided by Hicks. The analyst also testified that a Caucasian head hair was found inside the pants Hicks was wearing when arrested, and that this hair was “consistent” with the victim’s head hair. Because there is not adequate empirical data on the frequency of various class characteristics in human hair, an analyst’s assertion that hairs are consistent is inherently prejudicial and lacks probative value.
All original DNA testing done on the hairs was inconclusive due to insufficient sample size. There was not enough sperm found for testing. All serology testing results were inconclusive.
Hicks eventually secured access to the evidence and had it subjected to DNA testing. One of the roots of one of the hairs yielded enough DNA to obtain a profile, which excluded Hicks.
Hicks was granted a new trial on appeal based on ineffective assistance of counsel. The court found that his trial should have pursued further DNA testing before trial to establish his client's innocence. The grant of a new trial was affirmed by the WI Supreme Court, not based on ineffective assistance of counsel, but in the interest of justice due to available DNA tests. In 1996 the DNA test results excluded Hicks as the perpetrator, and the prosecutor declined to retry him.
Hicks received $109,000 in state compensation. He sued his trial attorney for failing to seek DNA tests on the hairs and won a jury verdict of $2.6 million. The award was later set aside by an appeals court and the case was settled out of court.