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Michael Wheeler

Other Washington No Crime Exonerations
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In June 2009, 61-year-old Michael Wheeler was arrested in Tacoma, Washington and charged with failing to register as a sex offender. Wheeler had pled guilty in 1985 to third-degree statutory rape in Pierce County, Washington.

On January 14, 2011, Wheeler pled guilty in Pierce County Circuit Court to failing to register as a sex offender. He was sentenced to 17 months in prison.

It was his second conviction for failing to register as a sex offender based on the 1985 conviction.

In 1990, the state of Washington had enacted a sex offender registration law and the state Department of Corrections required Wheeler to register because of his 1985 conviction.

On December 13, 1999, Wheeler, then 51, was arrested in Thurston County, Washington on a charge of failing to register as a sex offender. On April 4, 2000, he pled guilty in Thurston County Circuit Court and was sentenced to 20 days in jail.

In July 2011, the Court of Appeals of Washington reversed the conviction of Homer Taylor III for failing to register as a sex offender. Taylor had been convicted of third-degree statutory rape in 1987—the same offense to which Wheeler had pled guilty in 1985.

The appeals court noted that in 1988, the Washington state legislature had repealed the third-degree statutory rape statute. As a result, Taylor was not required to register and vacated his conviction. The charge was subsequently dismissed.

Based on that decision, Wheeler moved to vacate his convictions in Pierce and Thurston County. The Pierce county conviction was vacated and the charge dismissed on June 27, 2013. He had served a total of 328 days in prison on that conviction. On June 30, 2015, Wheeler’s conviction in Thurston County was vacated and dismissed.

Wheeler sought compensation from the state of Washington, and in October 2015, Pierce County Circuit Judge Philip Sorensen awarded him $466,000.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 1/27/2017
State:Washington
County:Pierce
Most Serious Crime:Sex Offender Registration
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2009
Convicted:2011
Exonerated:2013
Sentence:1 year and 5 months
Race:White
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:61
Contributing Factors:Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No