Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Edward Honaker

First NameEdward
Last NameHonaker
Year of Conviction1985
Year of Exoneration1994
Testing inculpated culpritNon-Cold Hit
State of ConvictionVirginia
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape
Death SentenceNo
Life / LWOP sentenceLife
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeWhite
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Defense argued that defendant had a vasectomy and was incapable of producing sperm; sperm was found during the physical examination of the victim after the rape. ● Three witnesses accounted for defendant’s whereabouts during the time the crime occurred.

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

“Q: Have you any explanation for the court, or for the jury, why they would look you in the eye, be so absolutely positive you are the person that perpetrated these crimes? A: No, sir, I don’t offer an explanation to it. I know there is no question in my mind that they both feel that I am the one that did it. It’s a mistake. I didn’t do it. I am not the one that did that to her.”

Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Hair
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Invalid
Reason why invalid(5) Hair match
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

“One of the Caucasian head hairs found on the shorts was consistent with the head hairs reportedly from the defendant. That means the hair either originated from him or from another person of the exact same race who had the same color, the same physical visual characteristics and the same microscopic characteristics. It is unlikely that that hair would match anyone other than the defendant; but it is possible.”

Identity of eyewitness
  • Intraracial Identificaiton
  • Victim
Multiple eyewitnesses2
Lineup Procedures
  • Composite drawing
  • Photo array
Suggestive Procedures

Yes ● Suggestive lineup ● Suggestive remarks ● Hypnotized victim and her boyfriend ● Victim not told attacker might not be in line-up Brady – suppressed that hypnosis had been conducted and statement that victim did not get good look at attacker

Quotes from testimony #1

Victim testified “I believe they called me at work and told me he had come up with a suspect.” Victim and boyfriend were asked to pick him out together in crowded courtroom at a preliminary hearing.

Unreliable Identification?

No ● Discrepancies in description –missing teeth and scar

Quotes from testimony #2

Honaker displayed in court how he had “a scar that runs from here to here where I had a gallbladder operation” which the victim did not describe. He was also missing “all except two” of his teeth, which victims did not describe.

Highest level reachedNR

Read more about this exoneration