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Shocking! How Police Framed Man, Imprisoned Him 27-years for Murder (Photo)

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In this very touching story, an innocent man who was framed for murder by the police has gained his freedom through a most unbelievable way after spending 27 years in prison.


Donald Gates

A federal jury on Wednesday found that D.C. police framed an innocent man for a 1981 rape and murder charge, making the District liable for damages after he was imprisoned for 27 years.

Jurors found that two D.C. homicide detectives fabricated all or part of a confession purportedly made by the wrongly accused Donald E. Gates to a police informant. The detectives also withheld other evidence from Gates before he was convicted in the fatal attack on a 21-year-old Georgetown University student in Rock Creek Park, jurors found.

Gates, now 64, was exonerated in the June 1981 killing and released from prison in 2009 after DNA testing.

Following Wednesday’s verdict, Gates’s attorneys said the detectives’ conduct warranted investigation into their handling of other cases. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District declined to comment on the verdict or whether the decision exposes the detectives to criminal investigation for perjury.

“It feels like the God of the King James Bible is real, and he answered my prayers,” Gates, who lives in Knoxville, Tenn., said as he left the courtroom. “Justice is on the way to being fulfilled. . . . It’s one of the happiest days of my life.”

Gates received nearly $1.4 million from the U.S. government under a federal law that grants $50,000 per year of wrongful imprisonment to innocent individuals who waive claims against federal officials.

Roberts is separately weighing whether the D.C. government is liable for damages to be awarded to Gates under the city’s Unjust Imprisonment Act. Such awards are uncapped and set by a judge.

In the only previous trial under that law in the past 30 years, a D.C. Superior Court judge in February awarded $9.2 million, including $350,000 per year of incarceration, to Kirk L. Odom, a District man wrongfully imprisoned for more than 22 years for a 1981 rape and robbery. The city has appealed that award.

Gates was sentenced to life in prison in 1982 for the death of Catherine T. Schilling of Locust, N.J.

At Gates’s criminal trial, a D.C. Superior Court jury was told that Gates had confessed to an informant, Gerald Max “Bear” Smith; that an FBI forensic expert had matched Gates’s hairs to ones found on the victim; and that Gates had committed a drunken purse-snatching weeks earlier in the same area.

Gates maintained his innocence, and his DNA exoneration decades later prompted the D.C. Public Defender Service and U.S. prosecutors to re-investigate and uncover wrongful convictions of four other District men who had served long sentences for rape or murder based on flawed FBI hair matches.

The FBI this spring acknowledged after its own review of more than 2,000 cases that its forensic hair examiners for more than two decades overstated testimony regarding the near-certainty of matches.

U.S. prosecutors in 2012 traced genetic evidence left at the Schilling scene to the true culprit, who died a year earlier. Prosecutors said he was a convicted offender and temporary janitor who had worked in the same building as Schilling. But the U.S. attorney’s office has not identified him by name, arguing that his privacy interests continued beyond his death.

This month’s federal trial in the Gates case focused on the original police investigation of Gates, including detectives’ dealings with the informant, Smith, the suppression of warnings about the identity of the actual killer, and the reliability of Smith and his incentives to incriminate Gates

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