Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Jeffrey Todd Pierce

First NameJeffrey Todd
Last NamePierce
Year of Conviction1986
Year of Exoneration2001
Testing inculpated culpritCold Hit
State of ConvictionOklahoma
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape
Death SentenceNo
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeWhite
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
  • Third Party Guilt
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Witness testified to being with defendant during the time the crime occurred. ● Defense presented maintenance man also fit the victim’s description of the attacker.

Did the defendant testify at trial?No
Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Hair
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Error
  • Invalid
Reason why invalid(1) Masking, (5) invalid claim of unique or unusual characteristic
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

Pierce was an AB non-secretor and the victim was an O secretor. The analyst’s testimony ignored masking: “A. I detected the ABO secretor blood group substance H. Q. Okay. Now that’s consistent with the body fluids of Ms. Burton. A. Consistent with the blood type secretor status of Ms. Burton, yes. Q. Now did you have a sufficient quantity of semen stain to have made an analysis for the blood type of the semen donor? Q: Again, open to subjection, that semen donor’s going to be a type O or he’s going to be a non secretor.” See SERI Report for discussion of this testimony, and Part II.A.1 for a description of the problem of masking and non-quantification and discussion of similar cases. The analyst also testified that hair exhibited a supposed unusual characteristic – “a banding effect. You have a blonde, but then right there you had a brunette individual or dirty dishwater blonde individual. So, led me to believe that this individual was wearing something around his head and that part of the hair was not exposed to the sun as the rest of the hair was.” Pierce regularly wore a bandana.

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

Yes ● Suggestive line-up

Quotes from testimony #1

Judge denied motion concerning line-up – “Well, I’m going to overrule your objections. I’ve observed the photographs. All the persons depicted therein have some of the similarities that have been described by the witness, several of them, they all similar features. All right.” Victim had described an attacker with “a hazel color” eyes (and asked the initial composite, with blue eyes, to be changed). “Q: But, in answer to my question, isn’t number two the only photograph in that set of six that has hazel eyes? A: Actually, number two, his eyes look bworn or that’s the way I perceive them.” Pierce was placed in lineup wearing a tan shirt, which the victim had described the attacker wearing – defense lawyer argued that “No other person is wearing a possible beige T-shirt with some kind of writing and emblem on it that fits her description.”

Unreliable Identification?

Yes ● Initial nonidentification ● Discrepancies in description – hair, height, eye color – two very different composite drawings prepared

Quotes from testimony #2

Victim described attacker who “had blond hair and it was long,” and to his shoulders Victim testified that she did not identify Pierce, who police pointed to outside her apartment, because, “I was hysterical and, like I said, still in a state of shock and I just said I don’t think so and we just left and went to the hospital. I never, they never — I never went over and got to look at the man’s face.” Victim initially “just could not recall the color” of the attacker’s eye’s. Victim initially described attacker as “very blond headed” and a “natural blond” which Pierce was not; victim admitted that ”as he’s sitting here right now, he is not a ‘very blond’ person.” Victim had composite redrawn – “Q: Would you please point out what it was about the composite drawing that you were dissatisfied with. A: Mainly the hair. It just didn’t look right. It just did not look like the man who had raped me.” The defense lawyer argued: “The evidence will be that the first composite was of a blond person whose hair was below his shoulders, was falling out of sight from the head-on picture. The evidence will be it was all frizzed up and kind of curly and ill kept, very full, had a very full face, didn’t look anything like this Defendant.”

Highest level reachedAppeal
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
  • Jury Instructions
  • Jury Misconduct
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct
  • State Court Newly Discovered Evidence Claim
  • State Law Evidence Claim
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
  • HE
Citations to judicial opinions

Pierce v. State, 786 P.2d 1255 (Okl. Cr. 1990)

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