Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Carlos Marcos Lavernia

First NameCarlos Marcos
Last NameLavernia
Year of Conviction1985
Year of Exoneration2000
State of ConvictionTexas
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape
Death SentenceNo
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeHispanic
Did the defendant testify at trial?No
Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Invalid
Reason why invalid(1) Masking
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

Analyst testified that the victim was an O secretor, while Lavernia was an O non-secretor. The analyst testified “That the semen donor was either a blood group O Secretor or a non-secretor” and that “O secretor is found in 33 percent or the populationm so that’s a third of the people, of males.” See Part II.A.2 for a description of the problem of masking and non-quantification and discussion of similar cases.

Identity of eyewitness
  • Cross Racial Identification
  • Victim
Suggestive Procedures

Yes ● Suggestive line-up – none in photos resembled defendant ● Prior identification suppressed by court ● Victim not told that attacker might not be present in line-up

Quotes from testimony #1

Victim was shown the five photos from the array and agreed the others “nowhere near resembles” defendant and that the only photo that did resemble the defendant was his photo, which she identified. Victim was simply presented with photo array and asked “Are any of these the man that attacked you?”

Unreliable Identification?

No ● Discrepancies in description – did not identify prominent silver tooth with star on it or multiple tattoos

Quotes from testimony #2

Victim said she saw “nothing unusual” about attacker’s teeth and did not see the numerous tattoos defendant had on his arms.

Highest level reachedFederalHabeas
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Actual Innocence
  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
  • Jackson Claim
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct
  • Suggestive Eyewitness Identification
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
  • HE
  • NP
Citations to judicial opinions

Lavernia v. Lynaugh 845 F.2d 493 (5th Cir. 1988.)
Lavernia v. Collins. 507 U.S. 963 (1993)

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