Kenneth Wyniemko was convicted of criminal sexual conduct, breaking and entering, and armed robbery. The victim of these crimes said that she had very little opportunity to view the assailant, but Wyniemko was still convicted based on a composite sketch. On June 17, 2003, Wyniemko’s conviction was dismissed after postconviction DNA testing proved that he was innocent.
On April 30, 1994, a man broke into the victim’s home in Clinton, Michigan, while she was sleeping. He had a nylon stocking tied off at the top of his head. The intruder told her to put her face down and handcuffed her hands behind her back. He then blindfolded her with her underwear. The assailant raped the victim several times in different rooms of the house. When the victim complained that she could no longer feel her hands, the attacker removed the handcuffs and tied her hands in front of her with her nylons. He ejaculated in her mouth and made her swallow the semen. Before leaving, he made her drink soda to wash the semen down and put her panties in her mouth to wipe out any semen left. He took the phone off the hook, wiped down the soda can, and left.
The victim told investigators that she saw a few glimpses of the attacker. She described him as a white male between 6’ and 6’2” tall, weighing around 200-225 pounds, and looked about 20-25 years old. She also assisted the police with creating a composite sketch, though she did not think she would be that helpful since she did not see the attacker very well. She later said that the composite sketch was only 60 percent accurate.
Kenneth Wyniemko was being held on unrelated misdemeanor charges on July 14, 1994. Police informed him that he resembled a composite sketch from the April sexual assault. As a result, Wyniemko was placed in a lineup and the victim identified him as the perpetrator. At the time, Wyniemko was 5’11”, weighed 198 pounds, and was 43 years old.
The Biological Evidence
Semen was identified on the crotch area of the victim’s underwear, but was never analyzed. Semen was also found on bed sheets. Serological testing identified antigens consistent with a donor of type A blood. Both Wyniemko and the victim were type O. The victim’s husband, however, was type A. The prosecution concluded that the semen could have come from the victim’s husband.
Wyniemko was convicted and sentenced to 40-60 years in prison.
The Cooley Innocence Project at the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law in Lansing, Michigan, took Wyniemko’s case. Working with pro bono counsel Gail Pamukov, the Cooley project was able to gain access to the evidence for the purposes of postconviction DNA testing.
In June 2003, the State Police Forensic Science Division tested numerous items collected from the victim and the scene of the crime. Using STR DNA testing, the laboratory found that the semen on the bedding did, indeed, come from the victim’s husband. The spermatozoa found on the victim’s underwear, however, proved to be a mixed sample that included the victim’s husband and an unknown male profile. Wyniemko was excluded as a potential contributor of the spermatozoa. Based on these results, Wyniemko’s conviction was overturned on June 17, 2003.