In 2009, University of Virginia law professor Brandon L. Garrett was poring over old trial records, looking for questionable forensic science evidence, when he came across the case of Keith Allen Harward, convicted of rape and murder in Newport News in 1986.
Now, the Innocence Project says recent DNA testing proves Harward didn’t commit the brutal 1982 crimes, casting further doubt on the validity of bite-mark comparison — a forensic technique that two experts testified strongly linked Harward to the crimes. It was their testimony that drew Garrett’s attention and concern in 2009.
Garrett, after reviewing the trial transcript, is not persuaded the bite-mark testimony was valid and said that when he learned a petition for a writ of actual innocence was filed by Harward earlier this month, “It was really, really, really disturbing to think you can just come across innocent people’s cases by accident like that.”
Harward, 59, has not been exonerated. Lawyers with the Innocence Project and the Washington law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP filed the innocence petition on March 4.
Proceedings have been stayed by the Virginia Supreme Court so that more DNA test results — said by Harward’s lawyers to further support innocence — can be submitted to the court.
Full article here March 27, 2016
DNA implicates a career criminal in the rape of a Newport News woman and the murder of her husband more than three decades ago and conclusively proves the innocence of his former Navy shipmate wrongly convicted of the crimes, according to the imprisoned man’s lawyers.
Keith Allen Harward, who served 33 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit, will receive nearly $1.6 million from the commonwealth of Virginia under a bill approved Monday by the House of Delegates.
Harward was convicted of a 1982 rape and murder in Newport News. He was released from prison last year after DNA testing proved he was innocent. The House unanimously passed HB 1650 to provide relief to Harward, now 60.