Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Another Case Of DNA Freeing A Prisoner

Rape convictions that put Anthony Capozzi in prison for 22 years were erased Monday because of recently found DNA evidence that tied the crimes to another man.

A prosecutor last week declared Capozzi, 50, exonerated. He is expected to be freed this week.

Capozzi was not in court for the seven-minute hearing when Erie County Judge Shirley Troutman threw out the two 1987 rape convictions. Capozzi, who has schizophrenia, was transferred from a prison last month to the Central New York Psychiatric Center in Marcy.

Eyewitness testimony said he was the guy. It turns out the eyewitnesses were wrong. He looked similar to the guy who actually did it. He was not a twin mind you, but just similar. I do believe women unless proven otherwise when they say they have been raped. However painful it may be though, we need to separate the rape from eyewitness testimony of identity. That always isn't the guy. While you aren't confused about being raped or not, adrenaline pumping, bad lighting, you may not be absolutely sure who did it if somebody who looks close to your perpetrator is found in a line up or on a mug shot. This applies only to stranger rape of course.

The other two comments I would like to make about this is the fact that the guy just got put for his last month in prison in a mental hospital to deal with his disorder. So for twenty-two years a schizophrenic was just tossed into the general population. I am sure that was lovely for him.

Also, unless there is smoking gun evidence, and by that I don't mean a conviction, I find the whole concept of admitting to a crime you didn't do in order to get paroled offensive. If you are put in prison on eyewitness testimony only, you should be allowed to state your innocence. If there is a videotape and DNA of you committing the crime, obviously it's a different matter entirely.

Most people in prison have committed crimes. Those who are innocent shouldn't have to suffer for telling the truth. The system is set up to make honest people liars. I am wondering if somebody in prison for 10 years for doing something they didn't do lies and said they were guilty to get out, if there is not a temptation to actually do a crime since they were already punished for one anyways.

Actually, I have one last point. It is to the DA's credit here that they allowed the results of the DNA test to stand and admitted their error. This seems to be the exception and not the rule. DA's often forget that their job is to get to the truth, not just to pin somebody from the crime. I get highly offended when new evidence comes to light that clearly shows somebody was wrongfully convicted and the DA gets on tv and says black is white, the sky is the ground, and they are still guilty, don't believe your eyes and your intellect. It's your job to incarcerate criminals. Period. Your ego, or your conviction rate are your concern, not that of society. They also had DNA to match against the guy who did this, so they could have proven with DNA that Capozzi was innocent. Perhaps when a person claims they are still innocent, we should allow a DNA test. Loser pays. If the DNA clears them, they are free to go. If the DNA affirms their guilt, they get time added to their sentence. What rational person could object to that?