Three Years Later, Virginia Case Review Goes On


Three years ago this week, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner pardoned two former state prisoners, announcing that a random audit of 10 percent of cases in the files of a former analyst had led to DNA tests that proved the innocence of

Phillip Thurman


Willie Davidson


The sequence of events leading to the audit, and the exoneration of Thurman and Davidson, was sparked by an Innocence Project case in 2001. That year, attorneys at the Innocence Project obtained DNA testing in the case of Virginia inmate

Marvin Anderson

, who had been convicted of rape in 1982. Evidence from Anderson’s case, thought to have been lost, had been located in the notebook of Mary Jane Burton, who performed conventional serology testing in Anderson’s case. The DNA test proved that Anderson could not have committed the rape for which he was convicted. In 2003 and 2004, evidence saved by Burton was instrumental in proving the innocence of Virginia inmates

Julius Earl Ruffin


Arthur Lee Whitfield


Burton’s unusual practice of saving evidence in her notebooks has now contributed to five exonerations in all, and Warner ordered a full review of her case files after the exonerations of Thurman and Davidson in 2005. The review is ongoing, read an update on the progress from a post on the

Innocence Blog in August


Other Exoneration Anniversaries This Week:

Dwayne Scruggs

, Indiana (Served 7.5 Years, Exonerated 12/22/1993)

Entre Nax Karage

, Texas (Served 6.5 Years, Exonerated 12/22/2005)

Keith Turner

, Texas (Served 4 Years, Exonerated 12/22/2005)



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