Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

James Tillman

First NameJames
Last NameTillman
Year of Conviction1989
Year of Exoneration2006
Testing inculpated culpritCold Hit
State of ConvictionConnecticut
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

● Witness testified that defendant spent the entire night at her house the night that the crime occurred.

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

“Q: Did you tell them that you did not do this? A: Yes, I did. Q: Did they tell you that you better confess, is that what you just said? A: They kept telling me over and over again to confess, to confess, and I told them I’m not confessing to nothing ’cause I didn’t do anything. . . . “Q: You told them you didn’t do this, is that right, Mr. Tillman? A: Yes. Q: Have you ever told them that you did do this? A: No, I didn’t. Q: Did you do it, Mr. Tillman? A: No, I didn’t. Q: Did you kidnap that woman that night? A: No, I didn’t. Q: And assault her? A: No. Q: And rape her? A: No. Q: You didn’t do that? A: No, I never seen that woman before, until I seen that picture that they showed me.”

Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Fingerprint
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Invalid
Reason why invalid(1) Degradation
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

“Q. But didn’t you say that it is possible that a stain or a portion of a stain might be from a secretor but might be a portion of the stain that did not include the antigens? A. No, that’s not what I said. Q. So is that not possible? A. No, that’s not possible.” This testimony ignored that a finding of no antigens could be due to degradation. Indeed, later it was discovered that the DNA profile on the dress stain matched the DNA profile on the pantyhose, highlighting how the failure to see antigens on the pantyhose stain was nothing more than degradation or due to the quality or quantity of the stain on the pantyhose. See The analyst testified that a latent fingerprint excluded the defendant.

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

Yes ● Show-up

Quotes from testimony #1

“Q. Yes, did you then suggest that she look at another more recent photograph of this man? A. I asked her if she wanted to, yes. Q. And then, in fact, you went and got one and showed it to her, right? A. Yes, sir. Q. And this confirmed your identification, is that right? A. Yes.”

Unreliable Identification?

No ● Discrepancies in description – height, facial hair

Quotes from testimony #2

Victim described “long sideburns” while defendant had none. She described attacker who as 5’7” to 5’10”; defendant was 5’5”

Highest level reachedState Post­ Conviction
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Ineffective Assistance of Appellate Counsel
  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
  • Jury Instructions
  • Jury Selection
  • State Law Evidence Claim
Citations to judicial opinions

State v. Tillman, 600 A.2d 738 (Conn. 1991)
Tillman v. Connecticut, 505 U.S. 1207 (1992)
Tillman v. Warden, 1997 WL 374961 (Conn. Super. 1997)
Tillman v. Commissioner of Correction, 738 A.2d 208 (Conn. App. 1999)
Tillman v. Commissioner of Correction, 739 A.2d 1250 (Conn. 1999)

Read more about this exoneration