Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Drew Whitley

First NameDrew
Last NameWhitley
Year of Conviction1989
Year of Exoneration2006
State of ConvictionPennsylvania
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeMurder
Death SentenceNo
Life / LWOP sentenceLife
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeBlack
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Defendant’s attorney noted that when police interviewed him after the crime, he told them, “I didn’t do it.”

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

“Because they were so small, they had very little in characteristics. Except for the two that had no roots, all of them had no tips on them, so they had very limited characteristics, what characteristics were there. . . In examining these questioned hairs and the facial hairs of Drew Whitley, I concluded there were many, many overlapping characteristics and similarities.” See Part II.B.2 for a discussion of this case.

Identity of eyewitness
  • Intraracial Identificaiton
  • Non-victim
Suggestive Procedures

No – but Acquainted with victim

Unreliable Identification?

Yes ● Initial nonidentification ● Could not see attacker’s face – covered by stocking ● Discrepancies in description – weight, voice

Quotes from testimony #2

He initially failed to identify the defendant to the police, later explaining that he was afraid. The attacker’s face was covered by a stocking mask, and he varied whether the attacker had a young voice or a deep voice, a heavier weight or similar weight to the defendant.

Jailhouse informant, Co-defendant, Incentivized WitnessJ
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies● Non-public facts included where victim was shot
Quotes from testimony #3

“He said the girl was shot in the back” and “he said he took the gun and threw it over a hillside near McDonald’s into Kennywood Park.” Court ruled that defense could not bring out that informant was incarcerated, much less for a capital offense, stating “”The gist is you are not going to be allowed to indicate in any way that [he] is incarcerated, and what he has been convicted of, and what the sentences is.”

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

“Has anybody promised you anything in exchange for your testimony, sir? A. No, sir.”

Highest level reachedState Post­ Conviction
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
  • Motion for DNA Testing
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct
  • State Law Evidence Claim
Citations to judicial opinions

Com. v. Whitley, 594 A.2d 786 (Pa. Super. 1991)
Com. v. Whitley, 608 A.2d 30 (Pa. 1992)
Com. v. Whitley, 782 A.2d 1061 (Pa. Super. 2001)
Com. v. Whitley, 792 A.2d 1253 (Pa. 2001)

Read more about this exoneration