Innocence: Fla. Man Freed After 14 Years

Chad Heins, aqe 33, imprisoned for 14 years for a rape and murder he did not commit, has been freed from prison in Florida. He is the ninth DNA exoneration in Florida and the 210th DNA exoneration nationwide. The Florida Innocence Project says:

On Tuesday December 4, 2007, at the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court in Jacksonville, Florida, the Fourth Circuit State Attorney officially dropped the murder and attempted rape charges against Chad Heins in light of results of DNA testing which conclusively prove his innocence. After fourteen years of enduring the torture of wrongful incarceration and the humiliation of being convicted of murdering his sister-in-law, Tina Heins, Chad Heins gained his freedom in time to return to his family in Wisconsin for Christmas.


Chad sought assistance from the Innocence Project in 2003. Through the collaborative efforts of the Innocence Projects of New York and Florida, and attorneys at Holland and Knight, Chad was subsequently granted court-ordered DNA testing. This testing on crucial items in the case demonstrated that debris under Tina Heins’ fingernails, a pubic hair found on her body and, most recently, semen found on her bed sheets came from the same still-unknown perpetrator. None of the evidence matched Chad or Tina’s husband, Jeremy. In fact there was no biological trace of Chad Hein’s presence anywhere in Tina’s bedroom (where she was murdered), including on her body or on the sheets. Neither Mr. Heins’ body nor clothing carried any evidence, even microscopic, of having committed this crime.

The Judge granted Heins a new trial and the state decided not to prosecute him again.

News articles on the case are assembled here.

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