Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Bruce Godschalk

First NameBruce
Last NameGodschalk
Year of Conviction1987
Year of Exoneration2002
State of ConvictionPennsylvania
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape
Death SentenceNo
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeWhite
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Defendant’s mother testified that if defendant had gone out she would have heard him and their dog would have barked ● Defense challenged defendant’s confession and the lack of physical evidence to support it. ● Defense also presented a stipulation that serology excluded the defendant. ● Defense also argued that the attacker had a mustache and defendant did not at the time.

Did the defendant testify at trial?Yes
Quotes from Exoneree Testimony

“Q: Can you indicate to the panel of jurors why it was that you would give such a [confession]? A: I was under a great deal of pressure, and I did. . . . Q: What do you mean by that? A: They were questioning me, they started out right away just questioning me, right? — and I was under pressure, and — Q: You mean from the time they got you in the car, or what? A: Yes. I was nervous and — what would you like me to — Q: Just what happened. A: They started questioning me down at the station and I was quite upset, and I was denying it most of the time, and I thought they would let me go. And so — Q: What would you have to do if they would let you go? What did you think? A: I was answering the questions for them. Q: You thought they would let you go? A: Yes, I did. . . . Q: To what end? What was your purpose in making such statements? A: I don’t know why I did it. Most of them were just guesses. Because they had asked me the questions, I was guessing. They were giving me multiple-choice questions.”

Types of evidence at trial
  • Confession
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
  • Informant
Were non-public facts alleged?Yes
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Serology
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

The sides stipulated as to the forensic analysis.

Identity of eyewitness
  • Intraracial Identificaiton
  • Victim
Multiple eyewitnesses3
Lineup Procedures
  • Lineup
  • Photo array
Suggestive Procedures


Unreliable Identification?

Yes ● Discrepancies in description – facial hair ● Initial non-identification

Quotes from testimony #2

One victim looked at photo array three times before making an identification, first saying “His eyes are looking up, but he’s awfully damn close,” the second time saying, “Number four… I’m really getting — I’ve got very strong feelings about number four,” and the third time saying, “Yes, I’m sure, number four.” Godschalk wore a mustache at the time, while the victims described the attacker as clean-shaven.

Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies

First victim: ● Wearing a tampon, which her attacker removed and threw on the floor of her room. ● Had a bedside lamp on ● Reading a magazine before being assaulted ● Attacker entered through a window ● Victim was a brunette BUT – initially said he entered through a kitchen window; the apartment had no kitchen window Second victim – ● Assaulted in her bedroom ● A pillow from victim’s don’s bedroom was used during attack ● Victim was blonde ● Rape occurred on the floor ● Attacker fled after victim said someone was returning home

Quotes from law enforcement testimony

Detective described that a crucial nonpublic fact as to the first rape, that the victim had a tampon, was volunteered by Godschalk before the recording was made. Similarly, as to the second rape, he stated that Godschalk had admitted before being taped a series of facts that the Detective was clear had not been made public, including facts such as that a pillow from the victim’s son’s bedroom was used during the assault.

Quotes from prosecution arguments

“Well, if he were guessing, he was guessing pretty darn good.” It was a “mathematical impossibility” that Mr. Godschalk could have guessed correctly on so many nonpublic facts regarding how the crime was committed.

Interrogation RecordedAudio recording of part of interrogation
Jailhouse informant, Co-defendant, Incentivized WitnessJ
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies● Non-public details concerning eyewitnesses’ failure to identify defendant and rapist not ejaculating in one assault.
Quotes from testimony #3

Jailhouse informant claimed that defendant had admitted that the victims “couldn’t identify him and stuff, because they didn’t get a good look at him, only in a mirror, right? And one time he was mentioning about how he didn’t finish the job in the one, you know, and this is a little embarrassing, and that the lady said – (objection) . . She was saying something like, ‘My boyfriend was coming home.’ And he said — he told me that he got scared and left.”

Quotes regarding any deal or leniency with informant, or prior use of informant

“The police told me originally that I would be, you know, helped out.” Defense argued in closings, that the informant “is an absolute liar. He is facing certain charges whereby he has been promised some assistance from the Commonwealth to make less significant the charges that are against him if he would cooperate with the police somehow or other, and I think [he] simply made these things up out of the whole cloth.”

Highest level reachedFederalHabeas
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Motion for DNA Testing
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
  • OG
Citations to judicial opinions

Commonwealth . Godschalk, 560 A.2d 826 (Pa. Super 1989)
Commonwealth v. Godschalk, 564 A.2d 915 (Pa. 1989) (Table)
Commonwealth v. Godschalk, 679 A.2d 1295 (Pa. Super 1996)

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