In 1987, Anthony Robinson was picking up a car for a friend at the University of Houston when university police blocked the parking lot, pulled him out of the car, and arrested him. The police said that Robinson matched the description that a rape victim had given of her attacker: a black man wearing a plaid shirt. The victim also claimed that her attacker had a mustache, which Robinson did not. Robinson was not a student at the University, which he believes encouraged the police to link him to the crime.
At trial, the prosecution relied heavily on the victim's identification of Robinson from a lineup. At the time of Robinson's conviction in 1987, DNA testing was not yet admitted as evidence in Harris County (TX) courts. Robinson had told police he was innocent and had offered to provide the police with a blood sample to prove his innocence.Serology testing was conducted, and an analyst testified that the victim and Robinson had similar blood group markers, which were consistent with evidence from the crime scene. The analyst testified incorrectly that 60% of possible perpetrators could be excluded. When the evidence being tested is a mixed stain of semen from the perpetrator and vaginal secretions from the victim – and testing does not detect blood group substance or enzymes foreign to the victim – no potential semen donor can be excluded because the victim’s blood group markers could be “masking” the perpetrator’s. Under such circumstances, the failure to inform the jury that 100% of the male population could be included and that none can be excluded is highly misleading.
Robinson was sentenced to twenty-seven years and he was paroled in 1997. Once paroled, Robinson was able to raise his own funds to pay for the DNA test by working as an order clerk at a local oilfield supply company. Robinson hired Randy Schaffer to clear his record. The DNA testing proved his innocence, which then led the state to conduct its own test, confirming the exculpatory results. On November 7, 2000, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously to recommend Robinson's pardon. As of 2012, he had received $407,000 in state compensation.