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Vincent Moto

Other Pennsylvania Cases with Mistaken Witness Identifications
Shortly after midnight on December 2, 1985, a white woman was walking in Philadelphia when a Chevrolet Caprice pulled up beside her and the passenger got out and forced the woman into the car at gunpoint.

The two men drove the car to another location and sexually assaulted the victim. They then stole her money, gold chain, and glasses, and drove around the block where they pushed her out of the car half naked.

Five months later, the victim, who was identified as L.Y., was walking on the street when she saw 22-year-old Vincent Moto walking with a young woman and child. L.Y. went to an office nearby and asked George Upshur to hold the defendant until the police arrived. Mr. Upshur complied and Moto was arrested.
 
At trial in Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, the prosecution revealed, during cross-examination of Moto's mother, that Moto had been convicted in the past for crimes against his girlfriend. Moto and his parents testified that he was at home at the time of the crime. The prosecution's case hinged upon the victim's identification of Moto as being the passenger who ordered her into the car at gunpoint.
 
Post-verdict motions were filed by Thomas L. McGill, Jr., alleging ineffective trial counsel. Following evidentiary hearings on September 11, 1987, and January 12, 1988, the court denied the motions and sentenced Moto to 12 to 24 years in prison.

A motion subsequently was filed seeking DNA testing, but the Court of Common Pleas denied the motion. At the same, the court also, however, ordered that all evidence in the case be preserved.

The Innocence Project became involved in requesting that testing be conducted on a pair of the victim's underwear, which contained semen from the crime.
 
Testing was performed at Forensic Science Associates in California. The results eliminated Vincent Moto as the source of the spermatozoa on multiple samples obtained from the victim's underwear. As a result, a motion was filed to vacate the conviction based on the exculpatory test results.
 
On November 13, 1995, Judge Joseph Papalini vacated Moto's conviction and granted him a new trial. In July 1996, Moto was released on bond and the charges were dismissed. In 1998, an independent laboratory conducted tests at the request of the prosecution and confirmed that Moto was excluded.
 
Summary courtesy of the Innocence Project, http://www.innocenceproject.org/. Reproduced with permission.

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
State:Pennsylvania
County:Philadelphia
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:Robbery, Other Violent Felony, Conspiracy
Reported Crime Date:1985
Convicted:1987
Exonerated:1996
Sentence:12 to 24 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:22
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes