Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Habib Warith Abdal

First NameHabib Warith
Last NameAbdal
Year of Conviction1982
Year of Exoneration1999
State of ConvictionNew York
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

● Called five alibi witnesses. ● Argued that hair samples did not match defendant.

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

● Defendant testified that he was working on the day of the crime and worshipping at a mosque in the evening. ● He did not know how to drive. ● He testified, “No, I did not” rape the victim.

Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Hair
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Invalid
Reason why invalid(2) Claimed hair exclusion would be impossible
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

Though “the hairs — hair samples were distinctively different,” where, for example, “the hair taken from Mr. Jenkins had a different medulla, which is the center part of the hair,” there was no exclusion, because “[i]t’s not unusual to have different hairs come from the same person,” and speculating that there is a statistical possibility that other unexamined hairs could be similar: “The study shows it would not be unusual to have to look at 4,500 strands of hair from the head in order to get a match with any one particular hair. And, from the pubic hair, one may have to look at as much as 800 hairs, and it can be from the same person. That gives an idea of how much a hair can vary just within one single person.” That testimony, if reliance on that study were appropriate, would suggest a statistical basis not to rely on the forensic method of hair comparison, which is based on selected exemplar hairs rather than on review of hundreds of hairs from a given person. See Part II.B.2. for a discussion of this case.

Identity of eyewitness
  • Cross Racial Identification
  • Victim
Lineup Procedures
  • Lineup
  • Photo array
  • Showup
Suggestive Procedures

Yes ● Suggestive remarks ● Live “line-up” consisting only of Abdal and a white man ● Abdal only person repeated in various procedures ● Det. showed victim single photo of Abdal

Quotes from testimony #1

“And the more pressure they put on, the less I would listen to them and the longer I took in making an identification…”

Unreliable Identification?

Yes ●Initial non-identification ●Discrepancies in description – Victim told police the man could be between 25 and 40. However, Abdal had a grey beard and was 43 years old. She described an attacker who was between 5’8” and 5’10” which was just a few inches taller than her. However, Abdal was 6’4”

Quotes from testimony #2

Victim described “pressure” police placed on her to identify Abdal “I then chose one man that looked closest to my description that I had in my head that I knew of the assailant” She told police “there were two differences still” when looking at him in person

Highest level reachedFederalHabeas
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Motion for DNA Testing
  • Suggestive Eyewitness Identification
Citations to judicial opinions

People v. Jenkins, No. 82‐1320‐001 (N.Y. App. Ct., January 25, 1989)
Jenkins v. Scully, 1992 WL 32342 (W.D.N.Y. 1992)
Jenkins v. Scully, 1992 WL 205685 (W.D.N.Y. 1992)
Jenkins v. Scully, 1993 WL 124698 (W.D.N.Y. 1993)

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