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James Bain

Other Florida DNA Exonerations
James Bain was convicted in 1974 of raping a nine-year-old boy in Lake Wales, Florida.
The boy was kidnapped from his home, dragged to a baseball field, and raped by a man he described as having bushy sideburns and a mustache.
A relative of the victim thought that the description sounded like James Bain. Bain’s photo was included in a lineup of five photographs and the victim picked Bain as his attacker.
Bain had no criminal record at the time of his arrest, and insisted he was at home watching television with his sister when the crime occurred.

Bain went to trial in May 1974 in the Tenth Judicial District Circuit Court in Polk County. The victim identified him as his attacker.

In addition, according to FBI analysis, the rapist did leave semen on the victim’s underwear. The trial occurred, however, before DNA testing was available, so Bain could not be definitively tied to the semen; he could, however, match its blood group. An FBI analyst testified that the semen on the underwear (from three separate stains) was of blood group B. Bain was an AB secretor, which should have excluded him. Instead, the analyst claimed Bain’s blood group had a weak A and thus he could not be excluded from having deposited the semen. This wasn’t supported by testing. An expert for the defense testified that Bain’s group actually had a strong A, and therefore he could be definitively excluded.

On May 23, 1974, a jury convicted Bain and he was sentenced to life in prison.
Bain began seeking DNA testing of evidence from the crime in 2001, but was unsuccessful until the Innocence Project of Florida accepted his case in 2005.
In 2009, DNA testing of the evidence showed no match between Bain and biological material left at the crime scene by the perpetrator. Bain was released on December 17, 2009, after prosecutors filed a motion to vacate his conviction and sentence.
He had spent 35 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit—more than any other person exonerated through DNA testing in the United States. Bain was only 19 years old when convicted; he was 54 when he was finally set free.
In 2011, the State of Florida awarded him $1.75 million in compensation.
— Michael Shaffer

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 12/27/2019
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:Kidnapping, Burglary/Unlawful Entry
Reported Crime Date:1974
Age at the date of reported crime:19
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, False or Misleading Forensic Evidence
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes