Earl Washington Jr.
In 1984, Earl Washington Jr., was wrongfully convicted for the rape and murder of Rebecca Lynn Williams and received the death penalty. Washington was only 22 years old and would go on to serve 17 years in prison. With just over a week before his execution, he was given a stay, and in 1993 DNA testing came into play, offering some doubt and asking some questions in regards to him actually being guilty. It would take another 7 years before advanced DNA testing would be performed, and eventually Washington was cleared of the crime and pardoned in 2000.
The O.J. Simpson trial is one of the most publicised murder trials ever. This trial is also one of the most popular trials that utilized DNA evidence. In fact – this trial actually thrust DNA testing into the spotlight and provided education and proper publicity on this “new” technology. DNA testing actually was able to link Simpson to the murder of his wife, but in the surprise verdict of the century, Simpson was ultimately acquitted.
The Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway
The Green River Killer tormented Washington state during the ‘80s and ‘90s, taking the lives of an estimated 90 victims. Ridgway was an early suspect for the police, and they collected DNA samples from him in 1987, but the technology wasn’t advanced enough to connect him to the killings. It wasn’t until 2001, when new DNA techniques would emerge, that evidence against Ridgway would be re-examined. He was arrested and confessed. He only plead guilty to 48 murders, and later confessed to more — he’s serving 48 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.