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Dan Lackey

Other New York False Confession Cases
In January 2003, a 27-year-old woman claimed that she was sexually assaulted by a stranger near the railroad tracks in Oneida, New York.

The woman told police that her attacker was in his mid-40s, bearded and 5’11” tall. Based on her description, police developed a composite sketch and showed it to the staff at a drug and alcohol center that the victim had attended.

The staff identified 28-year-old Dan Lackey, who had attended the center as well and had met the victim.

Police brought Lackey in for questioning even though he was younger and taller than the victim’s description and he never had facial hair. Lackey had a learning disability and was borderline intellectually disabled—evidence later showed his IQ to be 79.

During the interrogation, he told police he was drinking with friends that night. After police threatened him and told him he could leave if he confessed, Lackey told them he had committed the crime.

At trial in Madison County Supreme Court, the defense presented evidence that Lackey had actually been at his job at a Walmart that evening. The Walmart was located 15 to 20 minutes away from where the rape occurred, and time cards showed that Lackey punched out for a break at the time the victim said she was raped.

DNA tests had been performed on saliva that was found on the woman’s jacket, where she said the rapist had bitten her. Although the tests matched the saliva to the victim and excluded Lackey, his defense attorney failed to present that evidence to the jury.

On May 21, 2004, the jury convicted Lackey of first-degree aggravated sexual abuse and first-degree sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

After his conviction, Lackey’s father hired Thomas Wiers, a private investigator, who had helped Daniel Gristwood get exonerated and would later work on the exoneration of Skippy Woolson. Wiers examined the case file and discovered that the DNA tests had excluded Lackey, but had been ignored by Lackey’s defense attorney.

Wiers tracked down the victim’s ex-boyfriend, who told him that the victim had falsely reported a rape three months after she said Lackey had raped her. In this second rape, she said her attacker stabbed her in the back.

Wiers discovered that police had determined this second rape never happened by examining the angle and the depth of the knife wound and concluded that it was self-inflicted. The woman had subsequently admitted that rape never happened and that voices had told her to make the false report. Those voices, she told police at that time, had told her to make similar false claims in the past.

In July 2007, the trial court vacated Lackey’s conviction and he was released. The district attorney appealed the decision. When the decision was upheld, the prosecution dismissed the charges in July 2008.

Lackey subsequently filed a lawsuit in the New York Court of Claims seeking compensation, but the lawsuit was dismissed.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 4/13/2020
State:New York
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2003
Sentence:8 years
Age at the date of reported crime:28
Contributing Factors:False Confession, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes*