In January 1986, a woman was raped and robbed in her home in Somers Point, New Jersey.
The room was dark during the rape and the victim was not wearing her contact lenses, so she was only able to provide police with a minimal description of her attacker.
The victim, who is white, underwent hypnosis to aid her memory. After being hypnotized, the victim picked Clarence Moore, a black man, out of a photo array.
The trial court allowed the victim to testify against Moore, and, though no other evidence connected Moore to the crime, a jury convicted him of rape, robbery, and burglary. He was sentenced to life in prison as a persistent offender.
Moore obtained the assistance Centurion Ministries, a New Jersey-based non-profit that investigates wrongful convictions and subsequent DNA tests revealed that semen recovered from the scene did not match the defendant.
Rather than search for another assailant, the prosecutor speculated that the DNA must match the victim’s boyfriend, although no conclusion on this point was ever reached through testing.
Moore’s federal habeas petition was granted in 2001 on the basis of the prosecutor’s racially inflammatory remarks, manipulation, and misstatement of evidence, and he was granted a new trial.
A state judge dismissed the indictment as flawed in 2002. A state appellate court reinstated the indictment, but granted Moore a hearing on whether proper procedures were followed with the hypnosis evidence.
Moore requested a ruling on the admissibility of hypnosis evidence from the state supreme court and, in August 2006, the court ruled that the victim’s testimony was inadmissible. Prosecutors then dismissed the charges.
- Stephanie Denzel