Donte Booker

When Donte Booker was granted parole in 2002, he started his life over with all the difficulties facing convicted felons and sex offenders. Determined to overturn his convictions of rape, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, and gross sexual imposition, Booker continued to seek postconviction DNA testing after his release. His convictions were overturned on February 9, 2005, after DNA testing of evidence in the victim's rape kit and of her clothing proved that he was innocent of the crimes.
 
The Crime
 
On November 11, 1986, the victim, a white female, was leaving her office building in Beachwood, Ohio, when an African American male asked her about the location of a public phone. She spoke with him, under direct light, for approximately three minutes. She then went to her car and began warming it up. She was then attacked by the same man, who threatened her with a knife. Although the perpetrator told her to keep her face toward the side window, she said she saw him several times after he entered the vehicle. He took eight dollars from her and drove to the loading docks behind the building. There, he forcibly raped her and told her to get out of the car. She then ran to a nearby building and called the police.
 
The victim's car was recovered later that evening. A toy gun was missing from the car. The victim helped police create a composite sketch and looked through numerous photo arrays but could not make an identification.
 
The Identification
 
Donte Booker was arrested in February 1987 in an unrelated incident involving a toy gun. A police officer recalled that a toy gun was stolen in the rape case and put Booker's photograph into another photographic array for the victim to view. She picked Booker's photograph from the array and identified the toy gun as the one that was stolen from her car. Additionally, the police searched Booker's home and found a gray sweatshirt and sweatpants that generally matched the victim’s initial description of the perpetrator's clothing.
 
The Biological Evidence
 
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation detected semen on the victim's slip but there was not enough present to perform ABO blood typing. The laboratory also found a pubic hair from the victim's pubic combing that they determined to be of Negroid origin.
 
Post-Conviction
 
Booker contacted the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation in 2000 and found that they had retained evidence from his case, including the rape kit. Booker, however, was unable to obtain testing on his own. He was paroled in 2002 after refusing chances at an earlier parole because he would not admit to a crime he did not commit. In February 2002, Booker contacted W. Scott Ramsey, who filed a motion to have the evidence in this case subjected to postconviction DNA testing. The court granted the motion.
 
On January 25, 2005, test results excluded Booker as the contributor of the spermatozoa found on the victim's clothing and in the rape kit. On February 9, 2005, Booker’s convictions were overturned.
 
Summary courtesy of the Innocence Project, http://www.innocenceproject.org/. Reproduced with permission.

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State:Ohio
County:Cuyahoga
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:Sexual Assault, Robbery, Kidnapping
Reported Crime Date:1986
Convicted:1987
Exonerated:2005
Sentence:10 to 25 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age:18
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes