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Walter Snyder

Other Virgina False Confession Cases
Walter Snyder was convicted and sentenced to forty-five years in prison for rape, sodomy, and burglary. In 1985, the victim was attacked in her home by an assailant that broke in her door. She identified Snyder, who lived across the street, in a show up. In the course of investigation, the police found red shorts that were similar to the assailant's. There were also police claims that Snyder confessed. Only Snyder's mother could confirm his whereabouts at the time and conventional serology failed to exclude him as the perpetrator. Microscopic hair comparison analysis of a pubic hair found on the victim’s sweatshirt showed similarities and differences from Snyder’s hair. At trial, there was testimony that the pubic hair could have belonged to Snyder.
Working with the Innocence Project, Snyder's evidence was sent to the Center for Blood Research in 1992, after prosecutors agreed to testing. The DNA report excluded Snyder as a possible depositor of the spermatozoa found on the vaginal swab. The laboratory repeated the test at the prosecution's request, with the Innocence Project's agreement. The results were the same. Afterward, the FBI looked at the results and confirmed the methods used.
The prosecution joined with the Innocence Project in seeking a gubernatorial pardon for Snyder. An absolute pardon was granted in April 1993. The court subsequently expunged his record.

In August 2017, Snyder died of a heart attack at the age of 51.
Summary courtesy of the Innocence Project, Reproduced with permission.

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 8/21/2019
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:Burglary/Unlawful Entry
Reported Crime Date:1985
Sentence:45 years
Age at the date of reported crime:20
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, False Confession, False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes