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Edward Carter

Other Michigan Exonerations with Inadequate Legal Defense
On October 24, 1974, a man sexually assaulted and robbed a pregnant student at knifepoint in a washroom at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
The victim identified 19-year-old Edward George Carter in a photo lineup which contained multiple copies of his photograph. She also identified him in an in-person line-up although all of the other members of the line-up looked distinctly different.
Carter was represented by an appointed attorney who had only practiced for 18 months prior to his trial. She met with him at the preliminary hearing and the day before his bench trial. The attorney failed to request an analysis of fingerprints found at the scene and failed to note that serology tests showed the semen was not Carter’s blood type. She also failed to notice a report that said Carter was already in custody on theft charges when the attack took place.
The biological evidence from the crime scene was type O, and Carter was type A. In closing, the prosecutor explained away the discrepancy by saying that the biological material must be the victim’s and by implying that Carter was not a secreter, even though neither Carter nor the victim had been tested as to whether they were secreters.
He was convicted in on January 3, 1975, after a trial that lasted less than a day, and sentenced to life in prison.
In the mid-2000s, after all of his appeals and requests for post-conviction relief had failed, Carter began inquiring about the possibility of obtaining DNA testing, but was informed that the biological evidence could not be found. However, police did locate the fingerprint evidence and fingerprints from a railing in the washroom were submitted to the FBI’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System. State fingerprint examiners reported that a convicted sex offender who was in prison for similar crimes during the same time period as the attack for which Carter was convicted was the source of those prints. Two of those crimes occurred on the Wayne State campus.
In April 14, 2010, an attorney at the University of Michigan Clinical Law program filed a motion to vacate the conviction and it was granted. The charges were dismissed and Carter was released that day.

Carter later filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, but it was dismissed. In August 2017, he was awarded $1.76 million under the Michigan compensation law.
– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 8/16/2017
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:Robbery, Assault
Reported Crime Date:1974
Age at the date of reported crime:19
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No