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Dale Brison

Other Pennsylvania Cases with Mistaken Witness Identifications
On July 14, 1990, the thirty-seven year old victim was walking home from a convenience store when she was approached from behind. The assailant put one hand on her throat, one on her waist, and forced her to walk with him. The assailant stabbed her in the side as they were walking and she became unconscious. When she woke up, they were walking to bushes near an apartment complex, where he sexually assaulted her repeatedly. Dale Brison was convicted of this rape, kidnapping, aggravated assault, carrying a prohibited offensive weapon, and three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. Brison was sentenced to eighteen to forty-two years of imprisonment. During the trial, Brison's request for DNA testing was denied.
The victim had provided police and prosecutors with separate identifications of Brison near her apartment building. Debra Fertal, a forensic scientist for the Pennsylvania State Police, testified that a hair sample recovered from the victim's "underwear exhibited characteristics that were similar to the characteristics in Dale Brison's standard head hair." Brison presented an alibi defense, which was corroborated at trial by his mother.
In 1992, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that DNA testing must be performed if evidence had been maintained and the semen stain from the victim's underwear was not too degraded. The cost of the test was placed upon the Commonwealth.
The laboratory reported that no result could be found from the vaginal swab, but testing on the spermatozoa found in the semen stain on the victim's underwear provided results that exculpated Brison. The district attorney's office performed the same tests and came up with the same results.
Brison was released after serving three and a half years of his sentence. He later filed a federal civil rights lawsuit that was unsuccessful when the judge ruled in favor of the defendants.
In 1997, Brison pled guilty to another sexual assault and was sentenced to prison. He remained incarcerated in 2022.
Summary courtesy of the Innocence Project, Reproduced with permission.

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 4/16/2022
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:Assault, Kidnapping
Reported Crime Date:1990
Sentence:18 to 42 years
Age at the date of reported crime:27
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, False or Misleading Forensic Evidence
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes