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Antoine Terry

Other No Crime Exonerations Involving DNA
In 2007, A.W., a 12-year-old girl, met 17-year-old Antoine Terry in Jefferson City, Missouri when Terry, who lived in Chicago, came to visit his sister for the summer. On August 10, 2007, A.W. was at Terry’s sister’s home. When A.W. did not come home, her mother called police because she suspected A.W. and Terry were engaging in sex.

At first, A.W. denied to police that she had a sexual relationship with Terry. But then she said that he digitally penetrated her vagina and that he attempted sexual intercourse, which she resisted.

The following day, a Jefferson City police detective interviewed Terry. The officer said that when he told Terry he was investigating a rape complaint, Terry replied, “Oh, (A.W.)?” Terry denied having any sexual contact with her and said he first met her on July 29, 2007, at a birthday party for Terry’s niece.

That same day, A.W. was taken for a physical examination. The examination revealed injuries to her hymen and surrounding tissue that suggested she had intercourse during the prior 72 hours. The test also revealed that A.W. was pregnant.

After the examination, A.W. talked to police again and changed her story. She said that she had an ongoing sexual relationship with Terry from May through August 2007.

Terry was arrested and charged with first-degree statutory rape. He went on trial in Cole County Circuit Court in February 2008.

A.W. testified that over the summer, their relationship became sexual, that she and Terry had consensual sex more than six times during the summer and that Terry was the only one with whom she had had sex.

The detective testified that Terry admitted that he had sex with A.W. on August 7, that A.W. was a willing participant and that Terry did not use a condom. The detective testified that when he asked Terry why he had done it, Terry said he was only 17 and thought that he would get in trouble only if he was 18. There was no recorded statement from Terry.

Terry testified and denied admitting to the detective that he had sex with A.W. Terry said the first time he met A.W. was July 29, 2007 at his niece’s birthday party. He admitted that he told the detective that he “almost had sex with her” on August 7, 2007. He also admitted that he told the detective he thought it was permissible to engage in sex with A.W. because he was only 17.

On February 6, 2008, the jury convicted Terry of first-degree statutory rape. The judge sentenced him to seven years in prison.

Between the time of trial and sentencing, A.W. gave birth to the child. In September 2008, a DNA test was performed and Terry was excluded as the father of the child.

While Terry’s appeal was pending, his defense attorney filed a motion with the Missouri Court of Appeals requesting that the case be remanded for a hearing on a motion for a new trial. The motion asserted that since A.W. said the only person she had sex with was Terry, her credibility was undermined by the DNA test results.

In May 2009, the appeals court denied the motion to remand and upheld Terry’s conviction. “In this case, the newly-discovered evidence would not completely exonerate Terry of the crime of statutory rape,” the court stated. “At most, the DNA test evidence damages A.W.'s credibility, as it shows that A.W. lied when she said she did not have sex with anyone other than Terry during the summer of 2007, and it shows that she either lied or was mistaken in her belief that Terry was the father of her baby.”

Moreover, the court said that even if A.W.’s testimony was discounted entirely, the detective’s testimony that Terry admitted having sex with A.W. was sufficient evidence for a conviction.

The defense appealed and in February 2010, the Missouri Supreme Court reversed the appeals court and remanded the case for a hearing on the motion for new trial based on the DNA test results.

“This is an unusual case because of the subsequently obtained DNA evidence,” the court held. “Just the fact that there is newly discovered evidence during an appeal usually is not enough for a new trial, but here, the newly discovered forensic evidence, if verified, appears to be central to the case and shows that Terry was convicted with the aid of false testimony from the alleged victim.”

On March 24, 2010, the prosecution agreed to vacate the conviction, the charge was dismissed and Terry was released.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 12/14/2015
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2007
Sentence:7 years
Age at the date of reported crime:17
Contributing Factors:False Confession, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, False or Misleading Forensic Evidence
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes*