DNA test results confirmed the guilt of Roger Coleman, a Virginia coal miner executed in 1992 for the rape and murder of his sister-in-law, reports USA Today. Coleman died declaring his innocence in a 1981 murder and predicting he would be exonerated. Coleman’s supporters, led by James McCloskey of a New Jersey-based prison ministry, said were certain the DNA tests would be the first scientific proof that an innocent U.S. man had been executed. Instead, a Canadian police lab found only a 1-in-19-million chance that the blood and semen found at the crime scene was not Coleman’s. “We who seek the truth must live or die by the sword of DNA,” McCloskey said.
Peter Neufeld of the Innocence Project, which uses DNA to undo wrongful convictions, said the Coleman case shows there is no harm in testing cases in which an executed man claimed innocence. “Whichever way it goes, you get to the truth,” Neufeld said. He asked governors to study the 1,004 executions that have taken place since the Supreme Court restored the death penalty in 1976 for possible DNA testing. Joshua Marquis of the National District Attorneys Association said Coleman’s guilt “gives the lie to the urban myth that there is an epidemic of wrongful convictions.”