Paula Gray

Time Served: 24 Years

Paula Gray was convicted of murder, rape, and perjury in what is now known as the Ford Heights Four case. Her own statements were used to secure her conviction and that of four other men - Kenneth Adams, Verneal Jimerson, Willie Rainge, and Dennis Williams. Incorrect serological testimony contributed to Gray's wrongful conviction as well.

DNA testing eventually proved that none of the five defendants were involved in the abduction, rape, and murder of a young couple in Chicago’s Ford Heights section. Gray’s conviction was overturned in 2001 and she was pardoned by Governor Ryan in 2002.

The Ford Heights Four case was investigated by journalism students under the supervision of Professor David Protess at Northwestern University. For more information regarding this case, please visit the Center On Wrongful Conviction’s profile of the Paula Gray case, which includes the opinion issued when her case was overturned.

State: Illinois

Charge: Murder, Rape, Perjury

Conviction: Murder, Rape, Perjury

Sentence: 50 Years

Incident Date: 05/11/78

Conviction Date: 10/20/78

Exoneration Date: 11/15/02

Served: 24 Years

Race of Defendant: African American

Race of Victim: Caucasian

Compensation: Civil Suit, Private Bill, State Statute

Status: Exonerated by DNA

Contributing Causes of Conviction: Eyewitness Misidentification, False Confessions or Admissions, Inadequate Defense, Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science

Type of Forensic Science Problem: Flawed Serology, Hair Analysis

Type of Crime: Homicide Related, Sex Crimes

Death Penalty Case: no

Accused Plead Guilty: No

Innocence Project Involved: Yes

The Alternative Perpetrator Identified: Yes

Real Perpetrator Convicted of Subsequent Crime: Yes

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