SHORT READ

A Rush to Convict is Sending Innocent Men to Prison

LVMPD apologizes to innocent man after ‘mixed up’ DNA samples sent an innocent man to prison for four years.

Megan Ashley
4 min readJan 29, 2021

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Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

On November 6th, 2001, in Las Vegas, Nevada, a mother was getting her two young children ready for dinner. Her husband was at work, and when she heard movement in the other room, she had assumed it was her husband coming home. She called out, but who emerged was not her husband but a young man, carrying a baseball bat.

The man demanded all of her cash, but the woman only had twenty-three dollars. He then decided to threaten the woman to get into her car, drive them to the nearest ATM and withdraw as much as she could.

She did as instructed, and while at the ATM, the woman’s husband spotted her and ran at the pair. The robber then fled, and they called the police. In her statement, the woman described her attacker as African American. By his voice, she knew that he was likely a teenager. He had been wearing a blue hoodie and ski mask.

Police began canvassing the area, and while outside the victim’s home, they saw two teen boys riding their bikes. Police followed them and saw them go inside a home nearby. Police began looking around the house’s exterior, in the garbage cans and bushes and found a blue hoodie and a ski mask in the backseat of a vehicle in the driveway.

Police arrested the two young men, eighteen-year-old Dwayne Jackson and his fifteen-year-old cousin Howard Dupree Grissom. Both denied involvement in the robbery, but both submitted their DNA to be compared to DNA found on the hoodie.

Jackson was later charged with robbery and kidnapping when the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department concluded that his DNA was a match. Jackson maintained his innocence. And despite neither the victim nor her husband could identify Jackson as her attacker, the courts proceeded with no other evidence gathering.

Grissom was released with no charges laid, while Jackson was presented with life in prison for the kidnapping charge alone. Jackson, scared and faced with spending decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, accepted a plea deal offered. Prosecutors agreed to…

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