Friday, February 10, 2012

Group: DNA of man convicted of rape does not match attacker

The DNA of a man convicted of raping a College of William & Mary student in 1978 does not match that of her attacker, a University of Virginia School of Law program announced Monday.

The Innocence Project is working to have the conviction of Bennett Barbour, 56, of Williamsburg, overturned, according to a news release.

Barbour was found guilty of the rape based on the victim’s eyewitness identification, even though her previous description of her attacker was different, the release said.

He was sentenced to 18 years, but paroled after serving five years because other evidence came to light casting doubt on his conviction, according to the Innocence Project. His blood type was different than the alleged perpetrator’s, according to the release.

Barbour’s DNA sample is among roughly 1,000 from crimes dating back to the 1970s that then-Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner ordered tested.

The Innocence Project said the DNA sample in Barbour’s case matched that of a convicted sex offender, who is currently out on parole. The state has not revealed the man’s identity.

The Virginia Attorney General's Office has ordered a second DNA test to verify that Barbour’s DNA does not match the attacker’s. If the second test verifies the original result, the Innocence Project Clinic said it will file a petition for a writ of actual innocence with the Supreme Court of Virginia requesting that Barbour's conviction be overturned.  By Justin Jouvenal