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.
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. Those prints were matched to a convicted sex offender who was in prison for similar crimes during the same time period as the attack for which Carter was convicted. 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.
– Maurice Possley