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Larry Holdren

Other West Virginia Exonerations
Larry Holdren was convicted and sentenced in February 1985, of six counts of sexual assault. He was sentenced to thirty to sixty years in prison. He had been arrested and charged in 1983.
The victim in this case had been attacked while jogging in December 1982. A man approached her from the other direction wearing a hooded jacket and pushed her down a hill. The victim lost her glasses during the fall and was then dragged by the assailant to a storm sewer, where she was raped vaginally, anally, and orally. The assailant ejaculated over her face.
The victim ran to a house nearby and was taken to a hospital, where evidence from the rape was collected. The examining physician collected a rape kit, swabbed her face, and collected her clothing as evidence. Examination of the facial slides prepared revealed the presence of spermatozoa and subsequent testing revealed a sizable amount of semen.
The victim identified Holdren a month after the crime in a photo lineup. The lineup she viewed contained pictures of men that did not fit her initial description, but the victim became agitated while looking at Holdren's picture. Additionally, a man who was near the scene on the night of the crime claimed that Holdren's photo resembled a man he had seen that night. In March 1983, Holdren was arrested for the sexual assault.
Sabrina Midkiff of the West Virginia Department of Public Safety, testified about two pubic hairs that were recovered from the rape kit. She testified that she was unable to do a hair comparison because "there was insufficient quantity of known hairs." The defense then obtained known hair samples from the victim, victim's husband, and Holdren. The defense recalled Midkiff, and she testified that one of the hairs was consistent with the victim's sample and inconsistent with Holdren's sample. She said the victim's husband was excluded as the source of the second hair, which showed "similarities and dissimilarities" with the "microscopic characteritics" of both the victim's and Holdren's hair samples. Therefore, "no conclusion could be reached to the origination that hair." Under cross-examination by the prosecutor, Midkiff confirmed that she could not say Holdren "was excluded as being the origin of that unknown hair."
The defense asked that the biological evidence collected be tested, but the hospital had not preserved the relevant evidence. The remaining slides could not be typed and the police laboratory had found no semen stains on the sweatshirt. Holdren presented an alibi defense, corroborated by several witnesses. The jury convicted him on six counts of sexual assault.
Holdren lost all of his appeals but continued to assert his innocence. In 1997, the prosecution agreed to allow another examination of the remaining evidence. The evidence was sent to Forensic Science Associates.
Their report revealed that spermatozoa had been found, mixed with epithelial cells, on the sweatshirt. The epithelial cells, once tested, matched the victim. The spermatozoa produced a DNA profile that excluded Holdren.
In June 1999, the state agreed to enter an joint order to reverse Holdren's conviction and release him from prison. His indictment was dismissed in January 2000. Holdren later was awarded $1,650,000 in compensation by the state legislature and $1,000,000 from the medical center that mishandled the forensic evidence.
Summary courtesy of the Innocence Project, Reproduced with permission.

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 12/27/2019
State:West Virginia
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1982
Sentence:30 to 60 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