Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Calvin Willis

First NameCalvin
Last NameWillis
Year of Conviction1982
Year of Exoneration2003
State of ConvictionLouisiana
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaBench Trial
Type of CrimeRape
Death SentenceNo
Life / LWOP sentenceLife without parole
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeBlack
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Two witnesses testified that defendant was with them all night and that they dropped him off at home with his wife at the end of the night on the night that the crime occurred.

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

Defendant described his whereabouts the evening of the crime and denied committing it.

Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Hair
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Valid (Excluded)
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

“The hair that was collected from the bedspread was compared against the hair of Calvin Willis and of Cynthia Johnson. These were not able to be matched, or the hairs did not match hairs from Calvin Willis or pubic hairs from Calvin Willis.”

Identity of eyewitness
  • Cross Racial Identification
  • Victim
Multiple eyewitnesses3
Lineup Procedures
  • Photo array
Suggestive Procedures

Yes ● Suggestive remarks – victim told to pick a photo without a beard and told defendant’s name – also question whether line-up was suggestive and whether she in fact identified the defendant – all records of line-up where lost. ● Victim not told attacker might not be present

Quotes from testimony #1

Police told victim not to select photos with a full beard and detective had mentioned defendant’s name to her prior to showing her photo array. Others may also have suggested the defendant’s name and the victim’s testimony was highly variable on this issue. Victim testified that after she did not pick anyone out in photo array: “A. They told me, what happened? Q. They told you what happened. A. Yes. Q. Then could you pick someone out? A. No. Q. Couldn’t pick anyone out again? A. No. Q. Did they tell you about Calvin then? Is that when they told you about Calvin? A. Yes.” Detective testified: “Q. What are you going to say to a ten year old child, I need you to pick out the one that raped you? A. That’s what we said. Q. That’s what you said, I want you to pick out the one that raped you? A. That’s right. You have got six pictures there.” However, victim testified that “she showed me some pictures and then she told me to pick the ones that didn’t have a full beard.” Police lost line-up photos and line-up report, contrary to department procedures. The victim and relatives of the victim present at the line-up said that it had only three or four photos, not six as the detective recalled.

Unreliable Identification?

Yes ● Initial non-identification ● One victim could not see attacker’s face

Quotes from testimony #2

At trial, victim said she did not identify defendant from photo array, and said she did not see his photo in the array. Police testified she did see his photo and did identify him. Another victim did not see attacker’s face and could not describe attacker physically.

Highest level reachedNR

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