Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Damon Thibodeaux

First Name Damon
Last NameThibodeaux
Year of Conviction1997
Year of Exoneration2012
State of ConvictionLouisiana
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape and Murder
Death SentenceYes
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeWhite
Types of evidence at trial
  • Confession
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
Were non-public facts alleged?Yes
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Fiber
  • Hair
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Excluded
  • Valid
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

Fiber excluded the defendant.

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

● Victim choked and strangled with a wire ● Victim assaulted on levee on side closest to river; position of victim’s body ● Victim had sex with him while lying on back and with shorts removed BUT ● Although stated ejaculated, no semen was recovered from victim’s clothing or at autopsy, nor on ground at crime scene. Physical evidence suggested no rape occurred. Physical evidence also suggested victim had been dragged, and also kicked from behind. ● Having been told victim was strangled, stated used white or gray speaker wire from his car, but victim was strangled with red electrical cord burned off section of cord found hanging on a tree above victim’s body. ● Victim not assaulted with bare hand, but rather with a blunt object ● Victim not choked with hands, but rather a wire

Quotes from law enforcement testimony

“Q. At any time while you were having this conversation with the defendant did you tell him anything about the fact that [the victim’s] body had been located? A. No, I did not. Q. Did you tell him or did you in fact know anything of the details surrounding the location and manner of death of [the victim]? A. No. I knew nothing about the way she was filled… Q. Did you or anybody in your presence suggest to him where the body was located? A. No.”

Quotes from prosecution arguments

The prosecutor said in closing arguments that “[the defendant] says that the perpetrator strangled her, and then they ask him where was the body, which side of the levee? Now, Detective Thornton didn’t know that. Neither did anybody else. They’re just saying up on the levee, and he tells them it’s on the side closest to the river.” And – “he’s got all of the facts right, except for the ones that he chose not to make quite right, which makes sense, because if you’re confessing to First Degree Murder, you might want to just leave a few things out, or, even, as he says at the very end of his statement, ‘I don’t remember everything real clearly.’ But he says, ‘I hit her. I hit her.’”

Interrogation RecordedVideotape of part of interrogation
Highest level reachedAppeal
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Coerced Confession
  • Improper Capital Sentencing Instructions
  • Jackson Claim
  • Jury Selection
  • State Law Evidence Claim
  • Suggestive Eyewitness Identification
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
  • HE
Citations to judicial opinions

State v. Thibodeaux, 700 So.2d 519 (La. 1997)
Thibodeaux v. Louisiana, 529 U.S. 1112 (2000), State v. Thibodeaux 750 So.2d 916 (La. 1999)