On February 20, 1990, Mark Bravo was working as a nurse at the Metropolitan State Hospital in Los Angeles. A long-time patient at the hospital approached a guard and said she had been raped that afternoon. She named several people as her attacker, including Bravo, when she was interviewed by hospital authorities. He was arrested the next morning and charged with rape. Bravo maintained a strong alibi. He said that he left the hospital at 11:00AM and had not returned until after 12:30PM. He had been in meetings from 1:00PM until after 3:00PM. He claimed that he went home that night not knowing that anyone had been raped that day.
Controversy over DNA testing developed before the trial began, as the defense attorney claimed that he requested testing be done by the district attorney's office on items found at the crime scene. The prosecution said that a desire for testing was never mentioned before the trial. Bravo was eventually convicted and sentenced to a prison term of eight years.
The prosecution presented a blanket found at the crime scene with male biological deposits. The blood type found on the blanket is found in only 3% of the population, from which Bravo could not be eliminated. The analyst, however, falsely testified that only 1.5% of men had that blood type, leading jurors to believe that the probability statistic was twice as strong as it actually was. This evidence was bolstered by the victim's identification and evidence that Bravo had previously misrepresented himself.
Appeals all the way to the California Supreme Court were denied. Bravo's conviction was upheld and the state Supreme Court denied the motion to admit new evidence. Postconviction motions eventually won Bravo DNA testing and the case returned to the Los Angeles Superior Court in October 1993.
DNA testing was performed on a sheet, blanket, and a pair of panties that were collected from the crime scene. The results came back on December 24, 1993, showing that none of the stains matched the DNA profile of either Bravo or the victim. Bravo was therefore eliminated as the perpetrator.
The Superior Court Judge issued an order on January 6, 1994, that Bravo be released immediately.
Bravo filed a civil suit naming multiple defendants. He received a settlement of $15 thousand dollars from his trial attorney and $875 thousand from the county. Four years later in 1998, Bravo was awarded $4 million dollars by a jury for violations of his civil rights by the primary investigator in the case. The judgment was appealed, but ultimately Bravo prevailed. By the time the state paid out the award in 2004, interest brought the total that Bravo received to almost $7 million.