“Best part is being out with my family. Worst part is some of my families are not here.” —Keith Harward, on being free
In 1983 and 1986, Keith Allen Harward was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison for a brutal 1982 crime in Newport News, Virginia: the first-degree murder of a shipyard worker and the rape of the murder victim’s wife. The case against Harward relied on bite-mark evidence and blood-typing testimony that ignored test results excluding Harward as the perpetrator.
In March 2016, lawyers from the Innocence Project and from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP—including MAIP board member Donald Salzman—filed a petition for a Writ of Actual Innocence, after results from DNA testing proved that Harward could not have committed the crime.
Results of the DNA testing identified the real perpetrator, another sailor stationed on the same carrier at the time of the crime, who died in 2006 while in custody for a different crime.
On April 7, 2016, the Supreme Court of Virginia granted Keith Harward’s Writ of Actual Innocence, and the following day he was released from prison a free man.
This case prompted the Virginia Department of Forensic Science (DFS) to conduct a review of 200 old blood-typing cases to make sure there are not other convictions based on such flawed testimony.
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