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Free by DNA after 23 years in jail

by Johnny Briscoe Friday, Jul. 21, 2006 at 6:33 AM

WOW!!!!! Missouri has a law that will give the man up to ,500 in compensation from the state for each year he was wrongly incarcerated if he doesnt sue. WOW, oh WOW! That's a measly 0 for each day you were jailed, or .16 for each hour you were jailed. Hell you don't even the federal min wage of .15 an hour, much less get paid time and a half for each hour over 40 hours in a week you were jailed for. If the state of Missouri was going to be fair and pay the people falsely jailed the federal min wage for .15 for the first 40 hours and time and a half for the rest of the 168 hours in a week the should pay the person 0 a day instead of a measly 0 a day. And thats at min wage. Hell I would not be willing to falsely go to prison for 23 years and when I got out accept min wage for the damages done to me.

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-8/115337648767360.xml&coll=1

Man walks free after being cleared by DNA

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Associated Press

CLAYTON, Mo. -- A man who was wrongfully convicted of rape and served 23 years in prison was released yesterday after DNA tests indicated someone else committed the crime.

Johnny Briscoe, 52, walked out of a state prison in Charleston, a day after he was declared innocent by a judge. He was in seclusion with his family and authorities said he was expected to speak to the media today.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, who was not the prosecutor when the case was tried, called Briscoe's incarceration a "terrible mistake." He said it was exacerbated by the county crime lab's failure to locate evidence when the prosecutor first requested a review six years ago.

The name of the new suspect was not released, but McCulloch said the man is serving a life term for another rape. McCulloch said a decision has not been made on whether to charge him.

The victim in the case "is very traumatized by this," McCulloch said. "But she takes comfort that the other man is already in prison."

The rape occurred in 1982.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/96C4739967E30AD7862571B00074BB66?OpenDocument

Authorities release Johnny Briscoe

By William C. Lhotka

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

07/19/2006

Authorities released Johnny Briscoe this morning from a prison in Charleston, Mo., where he had been serving a life sentence for the past 23 years for crimes the state now says he didn't commit.

Discovery of crime scene evidence and its tests for DNA showed that Briscoe wasn't the man who broke into a woman's apartment in Maryland Heights on Oct. 21, 1982, raped, sodomized and robbed her.

St. Louis County Circuit Judge Bernhardt C. Drumm Jr. signed the order Tuesday freeing Briscoe at the request of St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch. His investigators drove to Charleston this morning and brought Briscoe back to St. Louis where he is staying in seclusion, for now, with his family.

Drumm was the trial and sentencing judge. He sentenced Briscoe to 30 years in prison for rape, plus an additional 15 years on convictions for sodomy, robbery, burglary, stealing and three counts of armed criminal action.

Briscoe was then three months shy of his 30th birthday. Today, he is two months shy of his 53rd birthday.

There was no DNA testing in 1983 when Briscoe was convicted. In 2000 and again in 2001, McCulloch said at a press conference this afternoon, he had asked the St. Louis County Crime Laboratory to look for evidence in the Briscoe case so it could be DNA tested and his office was told the evidence had been destroyed.

On July 6, his office learned inadvertently that evidence existed. Tests of cigarette butts from the crime scene matched another person, McCulloch said, and that person is in prison in Missouri serving a long prison sentence. The discovery of the evidence set in motion the efforts to release Briscoe.

At his trial, the victim identified Briscoe, who didn't testify because he had prior burglary convictions, as the assailant. McCulloch said there was a resemblance between the two men and the real villain had used the name ``Johnny Briscoe'' that night. The attacker knew Briscoe from the same neighborhood.

Briscoe put on an alibi defense. His nephew claimed Briscoe was at home watching the seventh game of the 1982 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers. Prosecutor Joe Larrew then asked the nephew who won and the nephew, 16, said ``the Milwaukee Brewers.''

The Cardinals won the game and the series that night. At the trial seven months later, the jury convicted Briscoe after deliberating less than two hours.

A year later, the Missouri Court of Appeals threw out the stealing conviction but let all the other convictions stand.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/07/19/national/main1819696.shtml

Inmate Freed After 23-Year 'Mistake'

DNA Evidence Exonerates 52-Year-Old Convicted Of Rape He Didn't Commit

CLAYTON, Mo., July 19, 2006



(AP) A man in prison 23 years for rape was freed Wednesday after DNA evidence proved he did not commit the crime.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch called the incarceration of Johnny Briscoe a "terrible mistake," one exacerbated by the county crime lab's failure to locate evidence when McCulloch first requested a review six years ago.

Briscoe, 52, did not appear at a news conference announcing his freedom. McCulloch said he is expected to speak to the media Thursday, after spending a day in seclusion with his family.

The name of the new suspect in the rape was not released, but McCulloch said the man is already serving a life term for another St. Louis-area rape that occurred just a few months after the one for which Briscoe was convicted. McCulloch said a decision has not been made on whether to charge that man, especially since he's already imprisoned for life.

The victim in the case "is very traumatized by this," McCulloch said. "But she takes comfort that the other man is already in prison."

Under a law passed this year, Briscoe would be eligible for up to ,500 in compensation from the state for each year he was wrongly incarcerated but he must agree not to file suit.

The rape occurred on Oct. 21, 1982. McCulloch said a man was burglarizing the victim's apartment, and when she awoke, he raped her.

After the attack, the rapist stayed for about an hour and spoke with the victim in a well-lit room, telling her his name was Johnny Briscoe. McCulloch said the rapist and Briscoe knew each other. The victim and rapist shared a cigarette and the rapist asked to call on her again.

He did, just hours later as police were at the apartment. They traced the call to a pay phone near Briscoe's home. The woman later provided details for a composite drawing that looked like Briscoe, and pointed him out from a mug shot that had been taken for a separate burglary.

"This was a strong case," said McCulloch, who was not the prosecutor at the time the case was tried.

At his trial in 1983, Briscoe did not help his own cause. His alibi was that on the night of the rape, he was with a nephew watching Game 7 of the 1982 baseball World Series, a game the Cardinals won 6-3 over the Milwaukee Brewers to win the world championship.

"Unfortunately, when he was asked who won the game he gave the World Series to the Brewers," McCulloch said. "The alibi was gone at that point."

Briscoe was sentenced to 30 years for rape, plus an additional 15 years on several related convictions.

In 2000, when the U.S. became equipped with technology to test DNA evidence that had previously been untestable, McCulloch ordered a review of about 10 old cases in which DNA evidence might confirm or deny guilt.

But the crime lab could find none of the old evidence, including that from the 1982 rape, despite repeated requests from McCulloch over the next few years.

During an inventory of the lab in 2004, the cigarette butt shared by the rapist and the victim was found in a freezer at the lab.

McCulloch's office did not learn of that find until July 6 and immediately ordered testing at labs in St. Louis County and Columbia. Those tests confirmed the DNA on the cigarette butt belonged to the other man.

"Mr. Briscoe is absolutely excluded as the donor of the DNA," McCulloch said.

On Tuesday, St. Louis County Circuit Judge Bernhardt Drumm Jr. signed an order finding Briscoe innocent. Officials with McCulloch's office drove to the prison in Charleston and picked him up Wednesday.

"Inexcusible is as polite as I can be in explaining why this wasn't found in 2000, 2001, 2002," McCulloch said.

A spokeswoman for St. Louis County police, who operate the crime lab, said a statement will be released on Thursday.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/9F2CE4647A555230862571B1001F2F24?OpenDocument

Wrongly convicted man is set free

By William C. Lhotka

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

07/19/2006

Johnny Briscoe is a free man today, after serving 23 years for crimes the state now says he didn't commit.

Briscoe walked out of a state prison in Charleston, Mo., on Wednesday after serving part of a 45-year sentence for convictions involving a 1982 sexual attack on a woman at a Maryland Heights apartment.

Thanks to DNA testing, authorities confirmed during an investigation that began July 6 that Briscoe was innocent and that the real rapist was already in another Missouri prison.

As investigators drove Briscoe back to his family in St. Louis from Missouri's Bootheel, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch called him on a cell phone and "apologized to him on behalf of the county, particularly for the past six years." Advertisement

Because of snafus in the St. Louis County Crime Laboratory since 2000, Briscoe didn't get out six years sooner, and that, McCulloch said, "is terrible. It is unacceptable."

There was no DNA testing in 1983 when Briscoe was convicted. In 2000 and again in 2001, McCulloch said at a news conference Wednesday, he asked the crime lab to look for evidence in the Briscoe case and other cases where DNA could now be applied to existing evidence.

McCulloch said his office was told the evidence had been destroyed.

In late 2001 and again in early 2002, court records show, Briscoe's attorney applied for post-conviction DNA testing. The laboratory reported that the freezer where the evidence might have been kept was searched and that the evidence - cigarette butts - had presumably been destroyed.

In 2004, the crime lab "was inventorying and cataloging everything in the lab" and found the cigarette butts in the freezer, McCulloch said, but his office didn't learn about their existence until July 6.

McCulloch aimed his criticism at the crime lab. MORE

Freedom: What took so long?

"It is just inexcusable that this wasn't found in 2000 or again in 2001," the prosecutor said.

Testing of the three cigarette butts confirmed that the victim's DNA was found on all three but that the third contained DNA that matched a different man than Briscoe - one who is also in the Missouri prison system serving multiple sentences.

McCulloch's staff is reviewing the statute of limitations to see if charges can be brought against him.

Crime and punishment

In the early morning of Oct. 21, 1982, a man broke into an apartment in Maryland Heights, raped and sodomized the victim, she said, but then stayed in the apartment and smoked cigarettes with her.

The assailant asked her what her name was and then told her his name was "Johnny Briscoe," she told police. Subsequently, with police there, he called her apartment and talked to her again saying his name was "Johnny Briscoe."

Police traced the calls to a pay phone near Briscoe's home on Adelaide Avenue near Interstate 70.

The woman completed a composite with police that resembled Briscoe, McCulloch said. She also identified him at the trial in May 1983 as her assailant.

Briscoe, who had prior convictions for burglary, offered an alibi defense but didn't testify.

Briscoe's 16-year-old nephew told the jury that Briscoe had been home the night of Oct. 20 and was there when he awakened the next morning. They had watched the seventh game of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers.

"Who won?" asked prosecutor Joe Larrew in cross-examination.

"The Milwaukee Brewers," the nephew replied.

The Cardinals had won the game and the series. The jury took less than two hours in convicting Briscoe of rape, sodomy, robbery, burglary, stealing and three counts of armed criminal action. Judge Bernhardt C. Drumm sentenced Briscoe to 45 years in prison.

Briscoe was then three months shy of his 30th birthday.

First day of freedom

Today he is two months shy of his 53rd birthday.

On the ride home Wednesday, Briscoe told investigators Dave Ventimiglia and Ed Magee that he wanted to spend at least the day with family members before he talks to the media, McCulloch said.

McCulloch said that the man who matches the DNA knew Briscoe from the same neighborhood but that Briscoe had no idea that the man had been involved in the assault.

Prosecutors have also talked to the victim, "who is very upset."

"She has been very traumatized by this," McCulloch said.

The Missouri Legislature recently passed a measure providing up to ,000 a year for individuals falsely accused and imprisoned. Prior DNA exonerations in the city include the cases of Anthony Woods, who served 18 years in prison; Lonnie Erby, 17 years; and Larry Johnson, 18 years. Steve Toney served 14 years in a St. Louis County case.

In each case, the victim had identified the later-exonerated defendant.

McCulloch said he didn't know if there was enough money in the program yet to pay Briscoe.

Briscoe spent Wednesday night at the home of relatives in St. Louis. Friends and relatives came and went or settled on the porch for a while. He declined to speak to reporters until a news conference today, preferring to spend his first free day in more than 20 years out of the limelight.

Greg Jonsson of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

blhotka@post-dispatch.com 314-615-3283

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