Alan Newton, a former bank teller from New York City, is due to leave prison today after serving 22 years for a rape he did not commit – a victim first of mistaken identification, then of a housekeeping problem of epic scope, the New York Times reports. For more than a decade, Newton, 44, pleaded in state and federal courts for DNA testing that was not available when he was tried. Police officials said they could not find the physical evidence, a rape kit taken from a woman who was kidnapped and assaulted. It was located only after a special request was made last year by a senior Bronx prosecutor to a police inspector.
At least 17 other people who have been convicted of serious crimes in New York City, and who maintain that they are innocent, have been unable to obtain DNA testing because the authorities say they cannot find the evidence, said the Innocence Project at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. By the project’s tally, the city has one of the nation’s worst records for finding old evidence when it is sought by people seeking to clear their names: Of New York City cases that the project has been unable to resolve, 50 percent involved DNA evidence that had been lost or destroyed, compared with an average of 32 percent nationally.