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Timothy Durham

Other Oklahoma Exonerations
On May 31, 1991 an eleven-year-old girl was violently raped and sodomized by the pool of her Tulsa, Oklahoma residence. Two years later, Timothy Durham was wrongfully accused and convicted of the crime.
Investigators had only inconclusive hair and semen evidence found at the crime scene and the victim's vague description of the attacker. The investigation began to focus around Timothy Durham, a local resident with a previous criminal history that included firearms and parole violations.
In his 1993 trial, prosecutors presented forensic evidence that allegedly pointed to Durham. An analyst testified that she had compared hairs from the crime scene with Durham's hair and found similar color that she had seen in "less than 5 percent" of hair samples she had examined. She said she had "not found any public hairs as light as these before." She said all the features she observed "were a match" and were "very, very similar." She also testified that both the pubic hairs from the crime scene and Durham's known hairs had an unusual straightening trait that she had only seen one other time in "Caucasoid" hair on "a post-pubescent girl."
Durham was convicted of multiple charges including first-degree rape, forcible sodomy, and attempted robbery. Despite the testimony of eleven witnesses who placed Durham at a skeet shooting competition in Dallas at the time of the rape, the prosecution was successful in convincing the jury of Durham's guilt. His total sentence: over 3,100 years.
In 1996, Durham contacted the Innocence Project and requested that DNA testing be performed on the physical evidence that had been discovered at the crime scene. Testing revealed that the semen found on the victim's swimsuit could not have come from Durham. This revelation placed the prosecution's accusation beyond the realm of plausibility and pointed to the guilt of a convicted rapist named Jess Garrison, who had moved to Tulsa following his parole. In December of 1991, one month after Durham was charged, Garrison was found hanged in a warehouse in what was eventually ruled a suicide. The prosecutor, who felt he could not justify further action against Durham without any evidence other than eyewitness testimony, eventually dismissed Durham's case.
Timothy Durham spent over three and a half years in prison for a rape he did not commit. He had maintained his innocence from the beginning of his ordeal. He awarded $50,000 in compensation for injuries suffered during beatings by other inmates, but no compensation was availlable for the wrongful conviction.

Summary courtesy of the Innocence Project, Reproduced with permission.

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 11/28/2016
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:Robbery
Reported Crime Date:1991
Age at the date of reported crime:28
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes