NC: DNA Frees Another Wrongly Convicted Inmate

Joseph Abbitt, age 49, was sentenced to two life terms for murder and rape. He served 14 years.

Today, he leaves prison a free man, as DNA saved by the Winston-Salem police department but only re-tested recently, has proven he was not the culprit.

A joint motion to vacate the convictions against Abbitt filed by the Forsyth County District Attorney's Office and the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence is scheduled to be heard at noon today by Judge A. Moses Massey in Forsyth Superior Court.


...The decision to file the motion to set aside the convictions came quickly after DNA evidence collected in the case was retested by the State Bureau of Investigation and LabCorp of Research Triangle Park. The genetic profile the scientists generated "conclusively eliminated the defendant as the offender."

It's another case of mistaken eye-witness identification. What's next for Mr. Abbitt?

[O]nce Abbitt is exonerated, he can apply for a pardon from Gov. Bev Perdue. And he is also eligible for $700,000 compensation from the state -- $50,000 a year for every year he was wrongly imprisoned.

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    this is starting to get kind of expensive. (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 03:08:09 PM EST
    in mr. abbitt's case, well over a million dollars; the 700k wrongful imprisonment compensation, plus the 30k (roughly) per year cost of his incarceration, plus the cost of investigating and trying him.

    add to that the fact that the real murderer remains at large, and the citizens of NC have gotten hit with a threefer.

    From your link... (none / 0) (#2)
    by diogenes on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 06:04:06 PM EST
    "Before investigators could arrest Abbitt, he left the state. They found him in May 1994 in Texas, where he had been serving time for unrelated crimes."

    He did fourteen years rather than one for "unrelated crimes", as it turns out.  Those who do prison time for crimes usually have committed other crimes for which they were never caught.  He had bad karma.  I still wait for these Innocence Projects to find an abundance of Sunday School teachers who wrongly snitched on, etc.

    That's true (none / 0) (#3)
    by Steve M on Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 12:43:31 AM EST
    I'm sure the victim's family is like, "Oh well, at least they locked up SOME bad guy."