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Kerry Kotler

Other New York Cases with False or Misleading Forensic Evidence
Kerry Kotler was convicted for the rape, burglary, and robbery of the same victim on separate occasions in 1978 and 1981. A man in a ski mask and armed with a knife had raped and robbed her in her home. She could not identify him and reported only the burglary to the police. In 1981, she returned home to find a man who claimed to be returning for another visit, this time without a mask, who again raped and robbed her at knife point.
The victim identified Kotler from a photo book, as well as by voice and at a live lineup. Testing by conventional serology could not exclude Kotler as the depositor of the semen on the victim's underwear. Kotler appealed based on many issues, but his conviction was affirmed.
In 1989, Kotler succeeded in having the evidence sent to a laboratory for DNA testing. The amount of DNA, however, was insufficient and the evidence was returned. The evidence was then sent to Forensic Science Associates. PCR testing revealed that Kotler could not have been the depositor of the semen on the victim's underwear. The prosecution contended that the profile found could have been a mixture of a consensual partner and Kotler. The evidence was then sent to the Center for Blood Research, whose findings were the same as FSA's. The victim's husband was then tested and also excluded.
In March 1992, based on these results, the defense filed to vacate the judgment. Besides the DNA results, the defense brought up the withholding of evidence including police reports that showed the victim's description of the assailant to be quite different from Kotler and that the identification itself was not positive. The court held a hearing regarding the DNA evidence, resulting in the prosecution joining the defense to vacate the conviction. The conviction was vacated on December 1, 1992. Two weeks later, the indictments were officially dismissed. Kotler had served eleven years in prison.
He subsequently received $1.5 million in damages from Suffolk County. He also filed a claim for compensation in the New York Court of Claims and was awarded $1,512,000.
In 1997, Kotler was sentenced to 21 years in prison after being convicted of a different sexual assault in 1995. He was linked to that crime by DNA evidence.
Summary courtesy of the Innocence Project, Reproduced with permission.

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 5/7/2020
State:New York
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:Robbery, Burglary/Unlawful Entry
Reported Crime Date:1981
Sentence:25 to 50 years
Age at the date of reported crime:22
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes