Mistaken Identification = Erroneous Conviction? Assessing and Improving Legal Safeguards

Authored by: Lori R. Van Wallendael , Brian L. Cutler , Jennifer Devenport , Steven Penrod

Handbook of Eyewitness Psychology

Print publication date:  October  2006
Online publication date:  May  2014

Print ISBN: 9780805881073
eBook ISBN: 9781315805535
Adobe ISBN: 9781317777830


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Alejandro Dominguez was a 16-year-old from Mexico, a legal resident alien in the United States, when he was arrested for the rape of a Caucasian woman in the town of Waukegan, Illinois. Dominguez protested his innocence, and although he had no criminal record, he was tried as an adult. On the advice of his attorney, he waived his right to a jury trial and was tried before Circuit Court Judge Harry D. Hartel in 1990. Hartel found Dominguez guilty and sentenced him to 9 years in prison. With credit for time served in jail before trial, plus day-for-day good time in prison, Dominguez was released from prison in December, 1994. But six years later, the specter of the crime came back to haunt him again, when the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service threatened to deport Dominguez for failing to register as an ex-sex offender. By this time, Dominguez was married and the father of a child. He retained defense attorneys Jed Stone and John P. Curnyn to seek DNA testing of the biological evidence in the rape case, and in 2001, Circuit Court Judge Raymond McKoski granted their motion for DNA testing (at Dominguez’ expense). In March, 2002, results of the test positively excluded Dominguez as the rapist, and he was officially exonerated on April 26, 2002 (Warden, 2003).

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