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Post-conviction matters: DNA brings exoneration

The advances in DNA technology have given many convicted individuals hope of proving their innocence. A conviction does not close all the doors, and effective navigation of post-conviction matters could bring freedom. Convictions of decades ago have been overturned nationwide, including Michigan, based on DNA evidence.

A recent case in another state involved a 43-year-old man who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for a rape and murder that took place in 1996. After serving 20 years of that sentence, the man was recently exonerated. Although he was released in 2017, the charges were never dropped. The relatively new investigative procedures of using the combined information of his genetic family tree along with DNA were used successfully to overturn the man's conviction.

Genetic genealogy is a new technique that matches DNA with distant relatives. People submit DNA samples to several websites where the results are posted in pursuit of finding relatives. Police can use the online information to identify distant relatives. This method was used to clear the convicted man's name and arrest another man who confessed to having committed the rape and murder.

Although the laws of the various states might be applied differently, the basic principle remains the same. Evidence can not only prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, it can also prove innocence. Anyone in Michigan who believes he or she was wrongly convicted can utilize the services of a criminal defense attorney with extensive skills in dealing with post-conviction matters. The support of legal counsel with particular experience in working with DNA evidence can significantly improve the chances of exoneration.

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