A man who spent 25 years in jail for a rape he didnt commit had his conviction quashed on the basis of new DNA evidence Monday, bringing to 200 the number of cases overturned in similar fashion nationwide since the 1980s.
A judge vacated Jerry Millers conviction on all charges stemming from the 1981 rape of a Chicago businesswoman, after his lawyers and state prosecutors presented genetic evidence that ruled him out as the attacker.
Miller, 48, already is out of jail, having been paroled in March 2006 after serving more than half of his sentence.
Monday’s finding means the conviction will be expunged from his record. He now will be removed from a list of convicted sex offenders, and no longer will be required to wear the electronic tag that was a condition of his parole.
Just as importantly, it paves the way for him to seek compensation from the state for his quarter century of incarceration.
Miller was 21 years old and fresh from a stint in the army when he was fingered as the assailant in a brazen attack on a 44-year-old woman in a downtown Chicago garage late one night in September, 1981.
The attacker surprised the woman as she was about to enter her car. He beat, robbed and raped her, and then forced her into the trunk of her car.
With the victim still in the trunk, the assailant tried to drive the vehicle out of the garage, but was forced to flee on foot when confronted by two parking attendants.
DNA testing was not available when Miller was convicted of the attack in the early 1980s and sentenced to 45 years in jail for rape, robbery, and aggravated kidnapping and aggravated battery.
His conviction turned largely on what proved to be flawed eyewitness testimony, which is at fault in many wrongful conviction cases according to the Innocence Project, a non-profit legal clinic that helped to clear his name.
During his two and a half decades behind bars, Miller says he wrote hundreds of letters to lawyers, journalists and others seeking help.
It was one such letter to the Innocence Project that led to a request for the DNA testing that ultimately exposed his case as a miscarriage of justice.