Dwayne Jackson

Time Served: 8 Years

Because of a DNA mix-up, Dwayne Jackson spent nearly four years in Nevada prisons for a crime he did not commit.

The Crime

 

On November 6, 2001, a Las Vegas woman and her two young daughters were accosted in their home by a man in a mask holding a baseball bat. The attacker demanded money, but the woman only had $23 in her wallet. Upon seeing the woman’s bank card, the intruder forced the woman and her children into their car and made her drive to an ATM machine to withdraw more money. No money was available in the account, so they began to drive back to the house.

By this time, the woman’s husband had returned with their son, determined something was wrong, and set out to look for his wife and daughters. He spotted the vehicle with his wife and the intruder still inside and when he approached the vehicle, the intruder fled with the baseball bat. The woman described the intruder as a black youth wearing a ski mask and a dark blue hooded sweatshirt.

The Investigation and Plea
Police canvassing the area came across 18-year-old Dwayne Jackson riding his bike with his cousin, Howard Grissom. Because they both matched the basic description of the intruder, police followed them and looked into a car parked inside the driveway of the house they had entered. Inside, they saw a dark blue hooded sweatshirt with a black ski mask in the pocket.

Jackson and Grissom were arrested and each provided DNA samples, which were tested by the Las Vegas Metro Police Department crime lab.  They found that Jackson’s DNA matched the profile found on the sweatshirt and he was charged with burglary, robbery and three counts of kidnapping.

Neither the woman nor her husband could identify Jackson as the woman’s assailant, so the DNA match was the only evidence connecting Jackson to the crime. However, facing a life sentence if convicted, Jackson pled guilty to one count of robbery in exchange for dropping the burglary and kidnapping charges. He was sentenced in January 2003 and released in late 2006.

Post-Conviction
In November 2010, the California Justice Department contacted the Las Vegas Metro PD and informed them that someone in their system matched the DNA from the crime for which Jackson spent years in jail. The DNA from Grissom, who had been convicted of manslaughter in California, was uploaded into the CODIS databank and produced a hit for Jackson’s crime.
Over the next seven months, police evaluated the case and checked DNA evidence again to confirm the error. After determining that a lab technician had accidentally switched Jackson’s and Grissom’s DNA samples in the lab before testing, the Metro PD informed Jackson of the mix-up in April 2011. He was fully exonerated on July 1, 2011. The mix-up in Jackson’s case has prompted a re-analysis of at least 200 cases handled by the lab technician.

State: Nevada

Charge: Robbery, Burglary, Kidnapping

Conviction: Robbery

Sentence: 4 Years

Incident Date: 11/06/01

Conviction Date: 01/01/03

Exoneration Date: 07/01/11

Served: 8 Years

Race of Defendant: African American

Compensation: Civil Suit, Private Bill

Type of Forensic Science Problem: DNA

Status: Exonerated by DNA

Innocence Project Involved: No

Death Penalty Case: no

Real Perpetrator Convicted of Subsequent Crime: No, Yes

Type of Crime: Other

Race of Victim: Unkown

Contributing Causes of Conviction: Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science

Accused Plead Guilty: Yes

The Alternative Perpetrator Identified: Yes

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