Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Barry Laughman

First NameBarry
Last NameLaughman
Year of Conviction1988
Year of Exoneration2004
State of ConvictionPennsylvania
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape and Murder
Death SentenceNo
Life / LWOP sentenceLife
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeWhite
Mentally Ill or Intellectually DisabledIntellectually Disabled
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
  • Third Party Guilt
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense


Types of evidence at trial
  • Confession
  • Forensic Evidence
Were non-public facts alleged?Yes
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Invalid
Reason why invalid(2) Invalid failure to exclude, speculation re. selective degradation
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

The victim was an A secretor, while Laughman was a B secretor. Though no B blood group substances were detected, the analyst testified that “There is a possibility that a bacteria could have worked on these antigens or that they could have broken down that I could no longer detect that they were there.” Also speculated that medication could interfere, or that antigen material is “secreted into the other body fluids but in a weak condition.” “The witness had mentioned changes related to drugs but there’s even a fourth one which is uncommon and that is that bacteria can actually convert one blood group substance to another. Given sufficient time for those bacteria to act, it would be possible to convert a group A substance to a B or a B substance to an A.” See Part II.A.2 for a description of the problem of masking and non-quantification and discussion of similar cases.

Identity of eyewitness
  • Non-victim
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies

● Victim received head wound not visible to naked eye but uncovered during autopsy ● Victim killed with entire bottle of pills in her mouth, and pill bottle placed in her hand ● Victim was raped ● Victim was wearing only a bra ● White rag found in victim’s hand ● Number and brand of cigarette butts found at the scene; ● Blue cloth bag and shoe box with money inside ● Described victim’s house BUT initially described seeing the deceased victim through her window, which was impossible including because there was no light in the room

Quotes from law enforcement testimony

“Q: In the same answer there’s a statement about the victim wearing a bra and the Defendant I believe the words slipped it up. Had anyone talked about the clothing that the victim was wearing at the time that her body was discovered? A: I had not talked to anyone about it other than police involved in the immediate investigation. Q: Particularly had you told the Defendant or any members of his family? A: No, sir. Q: That same series of answers goes to talk about the fact that he had sex with her. Had the facts that semen or seminal fluid or sperm, whatever, been found during the course of the autopsy been released to the press or to any family members or any of the general public? A: No, sir. Q: That statement also talks about the use of the pills, the language saying dumped the whole bottle of pills in her mouth. Had the cause of death itself been released to the public? A: No, it had not. Q: Had you discussed the cause of death with the Defendant or any members of his family? A: No, sir.” “There were certain things in this crime that only the person responsible would know. This was one of them. This injury was not visible to the naked eye until Dr. Mihalakis removed the scalp and the hemorrhaging was underneath the scalp itself.” “We don’t use leading questions. I don’t. I don’t use leading questions.”

Quotes from prosecution arguments

Not transcribed.

Interrogation RecordedAudio recording of part of interrogation
Highest level reachedNR

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