Roberts Exoneration

Earlier this month, Horace Roberts was exonerated after two decades of wrongful imprisonment. Roberts had been convicted of a 1998 murder. A watch had been found near the crime scene, and when police showed Roberts a picture of it, he stated that he thought it was his. Later, however, a similar watch was found at Roberts’s apartment. DNA testing was not done on the watch before Roberts’s initial trial.  DNA testing would eventually support Roberts’s innocence claim. When testing was eventually done on the watch, it was consistent with the DNA profile of Googie Harris, Jr. Harris Jr.’s father. Testing was also done on the victim’s clothing and fingernails, which produced a CODIS result consistent with the profile of Joaquin Leal, who is Harris Sr.’s nephew.  After the California Innocence Project announced the DNA results, the Riverside County District Attorney’s office reopened their investigation into the death. The Riverside DA dismissed the charges against Roberts and instead charged Harris Sr. and Leal with her murder.

The California Innocence Project’s writeup of Horace Roberts’s wrongful conviction is available at Sandra E. Garcia of the New York Times also an article detailing his case, conviction, and exoneration, available at


Published by BGarrett

Professor of Law, Duke University

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