Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Earl Washington

First NameEarl
Last NameWashington
Year of Conviction1984
Year of Exoneration2000
Testing inculpated culpritCold Hit
State of ConvictionVirginia
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape and Murder
Death SentenceYes
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeBlack
Mentally Ill or Intellectually DisabledIntellectually Disabled
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Defense called two witnesses: the defendant and his sister.

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

The defendant recalled that he was out of work that month and said that he was probably “at home cleaning up in the yard” the day of the crime.

Types of evidence at trial
  • Confession
  • Forensic Evidence
Were non-public facts alleged?Yes
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • No testimony at trial
  • Not Disclosed
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

A written report altered the blood type described in a first report never provided to the defense that excluded Washington. See Part II.F.1.

Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies

● Victim was a woman who was raped and stabbed ● He left his shirt at crime scene ● He left it in a back bedroom in a dresser drawer. ● He took off the victim’s halter top. ● He cut himself and bled ● The radio was on ● Location of attack BUT Numerous inconsistencies, including the race of the victim, described her as short when she was tall, described a few stabbings when there were many, he could not locate the victim’s apartment until being brought to it.

Quotes from law enforcement testimony

“I asked him at this point did he take anything from the apartment or did he leave anything in the apartment. He replied that he left his shirt. At this time Lt. Hart went to his car outside and got a blue long sleeved shirt which we had picked up as evidence in this case. I brought the shirt back. We displayed it to him and asked him if this was his shirt. He stated that that was the shirt that he was wearing on the day this occurred. I questioned him very carefully about the identity of this shirt, as to how he knew it was his. He again stated that that was the shirt he had worn. I asked him at this point what makes it stand out. He said there was a patch missing from the top of the pocket…” “I asked him directly why he left his shirt. He said it had blood on it and he didn’t want to wear it outside.”

Quotes from prosecution arguments

“Now, how does somebody make all that up, unless they were actually there and actually did it? I would submit to you that there can’t be any question in your mind about it, the fact that this happened and the fact that Earl Washington Junior did it.”

Interrogation RecordedWritten and signed confession statement
Highest level reachedFederalHabeas
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Brady
  • Coerced Confession
  • Improper Capital Sentencing Instructions
  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
  • Miranda or Edwards Claim
  • Pre-trial Publicity
  • Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel
  • State Law Evidence Claim
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
  • NP
Citations to judicial opinions

Washington v. Com., 323 S.E.2d 577 (Va. 1984)
Washington v. Virginia, 471 U.S. 1111 (1985)
Washington v. Murray, 952 F.2d 1472 (4th Cir. 1991)
Washington v. Murray, 4 F.3d 1285 (4th Cir. 1993)

Read more about this exoneration