Some 300 people have been wrongfully convicted and exonerated in the U.S. thanks to DNA evidence. Overlooked, says NPR, are the accounts of jurors who unwittingly played a role in the injustice. In Washington, D.C., two jurors who helped convict a teenager of murder in 1981 are now persuaded that they were wrong. They’re dealing with their sense of responsibility by leading the fight to declare him legally innocent. Santae Tribble, now 51, is out of prison. He’s asking a judge to sign a certificate of actual innocence that would help him get compensation for more than 25 years he spent behind bars.
A jury took only a few hours to convict Tribble for shooting a cabbie dead in a botched robbery. There was only one witness, the cabbie’s wife, who couldn’t make a positive identification. Juror Anita Woodruff is haunted by her decision to help convict Tribble of murder. When Tribble’s lawyer Sandra Levick of the Public Defender Service, called to say new DNA tests on that hair did not match, Woodruff recalled, “I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I said, ‘He spent all that time in jail, for nothing.’ ” Woodruff and another juror have written to urge a declaration of innocence so that Tribble can collect as much as $50,000 a year for each year he was wrongfully incarcerated.