Sometimes, being found not guilty doesn't convince everyone of a person's innocence, even if they have been exonerated by DNA evidence. The Seattle Times recently covered the story of one man's legal team, who decided to find the real suspect in order to prove their client was truly innocent.
Ted Bradford was wrongfully convicted of the rape of a woman in Yakima, Washington. He was exonerated in 2010, but not before serving a ten-year prison sentence. The crime he was accused of occurred in September of 1995. The victim had been home with her newborn when a man broke into her house, covered her head with a mask, and raped her. Bradford was picked up a few months later and falsely confessed to the crime.
Bradford was not perfect – he had been brought in on suspicion of committing another crime in the neighborhood- but he didn't commit this offense. Despite this, he was interrogated for nine hours about the rape. According to Bradford, he believed they wouldn't let him leave the room until he admitted to committing the crime. He stated that he decided to just confess, figuring that the forensic evidence would prove he didn't do it. According to The Seattle Times, his confession had been “riddled with nearly 30 errors based on the facts of the crime.” In addition, he had an alibi for the time the crime occurred as he had been at work. However, he was still charged with first-degree rape as well as first-degree burglary and subsequently found guilty at trial. He was given a 10-year prison sentence and ended up serving the entire sentence. He was released in August of 2005 and required to register as a sex offender.
Six years into Bradford's sentence, the Innocence Project Northwest became involved in his case. The project convinced the prosecuting attorney to retest the evidence. The item that was tested was the mask, which had male DNA on it. The mask was tested in 2005 and the results proved the DNA wasn't Bradford's. Next, his attorney moved to have his conviction vacated and a judge agreed. However, the Yakima County Prosecutor's Officer refiled the charges in 2008, but at a second trial in 2010 Bradford was found not guilty.
Despite the jury's verdict, some Yakima police and the county's prosecutor are still convinced that Bradford is guilty. In a move brought on by the seeming “refusal by police, prosecutors, and the attorney general to acknowledge Bradford's innocence,” Bradford's attorneys hired a private investigator to help discover a suspect – and just recently they found one. In July 2017, they found that the DNA matched the victim's brother-in-law. This information was given to the police but no charges have been filed as of yet. However, the prosecutor's office is looking into the new evidence, according to The Seattle Times.
Bradford is now “seeking compensation from the state for the years he spent in prison and the time after his release when he was required to register as a Level 3 sex offender.” He has also “filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the detective who led the rape investigation that resulted in [his] conviction.”