Hector Gonzalez was arrested in December of 1995 and charged with murder. More than five years later, DNA testing proved crucial in establishing his innocence and securing his release.
The victim was killed during a fight outside of a night club. At trial, prosecutors presented one eyewitness that placed Gonzalez at the scene of the fight but the witness did not identify him as the killer. Serological testing revealed six blood stains on Gonzalez’s pants. Five of those stains revealed a blood group marker that is shared by more than half of the population of New York City. On this evidence, Gonzalez was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years to life in prison.
A subsequent investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District into the activities of the Latin Kings, including this murder, produced testimony that Gonzalez was not involved in the murder. In corroborating this testimony, the blood evidence was submitted for DNA testing. Results revealed that the blood on Gonzalez’s pants came from two other men who were wounded in the fight. Gonzalez had been tending to their wounds when their blood was transferred to his pants.
Gonzalez was released on April 24, 2002, after having served over five years of his sentence. He filed a federal civil rights lawsuit that was settled in 2008 by the city of New York for $3.4 million.