Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

David A Gray

First NameDavid A
Last NameGray
Year of Conviction1978
Year of Exoneration1999
State of ConvictionIllinois
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape
Death SentenceNo
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeBlack
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Defendant’s parents, defendant’s girlfriend, and defendant’s girlfriend’s mother all testified that defendant was with them at the time of the crime. ● Witness testified that defendant was at work during the time that the attacker visited the victim the week before the crime.

Did the defendant testify at trial?No
Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
  • Informant
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Hair
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Invalid
Reason why invalid(2) Failure to exclude
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

The analyst did not perform secretor testing on the defendant, which would shed light on whether his blood group substances could have been observed in the sample. Although the questioned hair from crime scene had a central medulla, while defendant’s hair did not, despite this difference the analyst found the results “inconclusive. I felt that there were enough— that there was a balance between similarities and dissimilarities that, when you reach a point, you just have to give up on it…”

Identity of eyewitness
  • Cross Racial Identification
  • Intraracial Identificaiton
  • Non-victim
  • Victim
Multiple eyewitnesses2
Suggestive Procedures


Unreliable Identification?

Yes ● Non-identification by one eyewitness

Jailhouse informant, Co-defendant, Incentivized WitnessJ
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies● Non-public facts including explanation for lack of forensic evidence, the ripped telephone, the unusual “wine-colored” shoes the perpetrator wore – prosecutor argued that was “a fact that would have been unknown to any person, other than police officers, members of the State's Attorney's Office. . . “
Quotes from testimony #3

He testified “once inside the house, his friend raped the lady, and he said that after he raped her, he went into the kitchen, and got a knife out of the drawer, and, after that, he said that he stabbed the lady a lot of times.” They then “went through the purse and found the checks,” and then left. He “had some gloves or somethin’ on his hands,” explaining why no fingerprints were found. “Q. Okay, did he say anything about a telephone? A. Oh, yes. He jerked—one of them jerked the phone off the wall. Q. Okay, did he tell you what the color of the shoes he had on? A. Wine colored. Prosecutor testified “That only fact that I told him, prior to him telling my anything, was that it was a rape case.”

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

He was told that he would “get out anyway” after he provided information about Gray. Prosecutor testified, “I know there was nothing definite said or offered, but I don’t know whether I may have said something like, ‘It won’t hurt you,’ or something like that. I just can’t remember.” “There has been a promise that he will not go to the penitentiary; that he will serve his time, an appropriate amount of time in the County Jail…” This was because “he had served as an informant, for the State, in a number of drug cases…” He was sentenced to 3 years. But he served seven months – “they told me all I would have to do was six or seven months, whatever they felt was enough time on the burglary.” And he understood he would serve “a shorter period of time,” and would be let out a few weeks after the Gray trial. When prosecutor asked him to take a lie detector test, he refused, “because I have bad nerves.” Prosecutor argued that the informant “is a bum, but he’s been used in the past, too, and the information that he has provided has been very reliable, in other situations. This is not uncommon, in law enforcement, and his information, in the past, was instrumental in the prosecution of other cases to successful conclusions, and he has furnished reliable facts.

Highest level reachedFederalHabeas
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Ineffective Assistance of Appellate Counsel
  • Jackson Claim
  • Jury Selection
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct
  • Sentencing — Noncapital
  • Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel
  • State Law Evidence Claim
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
  • HE
Citations to judicial opinions

People v. Gray, 399 N.E.2d 206 (Ill. App. 1979)
Gray v. Greer, 707 F.2d 965 (7th Cir. 1983)
Gray v. Greer, 778 F.2d 350 (7th Cir 1985)
Greer v. Gray, 478 U.S. 1017 (1986)
Gray v. Greer, 800 F.2d 644 (7th Cir. 11986)
Gray v. Greer, 878 F.2d 384 (Table) (7th Cir. 1989)
Gray v. Greer, 493 U.S. 980 (1989)

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