Willie James Nesmith

In May 1982, a 19-year-old white Dickinson College student was raped and beaten in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
 
Two witnesses identified 20-year-old Willie Nesmith, an African American man who was on the campus for training in the Golden Gloves amateur boxing program, as being near the scene of the crime. The victim was unable to identify Nesmith as her attacker.
 
After his first trial ended in a mistrial because the jury deadlocked, Nesmith was convicted at a second trial on June 30, 1982. He was sentenced to nine to 25 years in prison and was released on parole in 1992.
 
In 1996, he was convicted for selling cocaine, his parole was revoked and he was sent back to prison.
 
In October 1999, a request to submit the evidence for DNA testing was granted and the testing excluded Nesmith, who was released on bond on June 30, 2000.
 
Following further DNA tests on a hair that also failed to connect Nesmith to the crime, Nesmith’s conviction was vacated.
 
The Cumberland County District Attorney dismissed the charges on August 15, 2001.
 
– Maurice Possley
 
 

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State:Pennsylvania
County:Cumberland
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1982
Convicted:1982
Exonerated:2001
Sentence:9 to 25 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age:20
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes