Ronjon Cameron: Forensic Expert Testimony Leads to False Conviction

Boston’s NPR News Station WBUR reported today and yesterday on the story of Ronjon Cameron who was convicted of charges of rape in 2003. The two major pieces of evidence against Cameron were DNA evidence and the victim’s identification. There were two samples of DNA evidence obtained from the victim’s underwear: the first sample, which contained two male profiles, excluded Cameron as a donor; the second sample came up with “inconclusive” results. However, at trial, the prosecutor put on an expert who testified that could be Cameron’s sample, and Cameron’s trial attorney did not object on grounds of relevance. WBUR writes: “The expert suggested that the primary source of DNA — that did not come from Cameron — might be masking out the DNA type in the second source that could be Cameron’s. She even implied the test might have shown a match if only there had been more DNA to work with.” The defense attorney did not call a DNA expert.

On multiple appeals, higher courts found that the error to allow in the inconclusive DNA evidence was harmless. However, a test conducted in 2012 revealed that the second sample did not have inconclusive results – in fact, the test revealed that the DNA came from a female, not a male. Despite this new development, the prosecutor refused to reexamine the case, arguing that the credibility of the victim-witness is what put Cameron away, not the DNA evidence. The Supreme Judicial Court looked at Cameron’s case in 2014 and found that the admission of erroneous DNA evidence was more than a harmless error and granted Cameron a new trial. Since that holding, the prosecutor has filed a nolle prosequi and is not planning on retrying the case; the office claims that they had difficulties contacting the victim.

Cameron is now writing a book about his experience and suing the office that prosecuted him.

Part I can be read here; Part II is available here.

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