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James Dickerson

Other Wayne County, Michigan exonerations with mistaken witness identification
On March 13, 1992, 39-year-old James Dickerson was arrested for the rape of a 26-year-old woman in Detroit, Michigan.

Dickerson went to trial in August in the City of Detroit Recorder’s Court and chose to have his case decided by a judge without a jury. The victim identified him as her attacker.

A rape kit that was taken after the woman reported her assault was not tested prior to the trial.

On August 10, 1992, Judge Gershwin Drain convicted Dickerson of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. Dickerson was sentenced to two to 15 years in prison.

In February 1993, Dickerson was released on bond pending his appeal. In October 1995, Dickerson filed a motion requesting that DNA testing be performed on the rape kit. The motion was granted in February 1996, and Dickerson submitted a blood sample to the Detroit police department for analysis.

In August 1997, the Detroit police crime laboratory reported that Dickerson could be scientifically excluded as the rapist if it were assumed that sperm from one man were included in the rape kit. However, the analyst declared that if the sperm from more than one man were assumed, Dickerson could not be excluded.

Dickerson’s bond was revoked and he was taken into custody in August 1997. He was later able to post bond in November 1997.

Dickerson requested a second opinion of the DNA test results from Dr. Julian Adams, a professor and chair of the University of Michigan Biology Department. In a letter dated February 12, 1998, Dr. Adams said that the results of the DNA testing did exclude Dickerson as a contributor of any sperm collected from the rape kit.

Dickerson, who had gone back into custody in April 1998, filed a motion to vacate his conviction. On June 29, 1998, Dickerson’s motion for relief was granted and his conviction was vacated. He was released on June 30, 1998.

On July 13, 1998, a motion to dismiss filed by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office was granted.

In 2017, Dickerson filed a claim for compensation from the state of Michigan and was awarded $36,302 in 2020.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 5/18/2020
Last Updated: 10/15/2020
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1992
Sentence:2 to 15 years
Age at the date of reported crime:39
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes*