Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Jerry Townsend

First NameJerry
Last NameTownsend
Year of Conviction1980
Year of Exoneration2001
Testing inculpated culpritNon-Cold Hit
State of ConvictionFlorida
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape and Murder
Death SentenceNo
Life / LWOP sentenceLife
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeBlack
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Alibi witnesses included his employer, probation officer and landlord

Did the defendant testify at trial?No
Types of evidence at trial
  • Confession
Were non-public facts alleged?Yes
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies

● Townsend led police to six different crime scenes, confessed at each, and correctly identified location of the body at one crime scene ● He knew one victim was strangled ● He described that one victim was wearing a dress. ● He described that a white house at the crime scene had previously been yellow BUT Townsend gave incorrect information, including the wrong name for a victim, claimed to have cut a victim who suffered no cuts. See Amy Driscoll and Manny Garcia, Townsend Confession at Odds with Evidence, Miami Herald, May 27, 2001.

Quotes from law enforcement testimony

A detective noted, “There is number of inconsistencies in his statements. There is no way of getting around that.” As to one victim, “He said he put his hands tight around her neck and he strangled her…” Townsend said “’See that white house right there?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He says, ‘It was yellow.’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘1973.’ . . . I didn’t know that. Naturally when I got back in I checked and it was – it was yellow.”

Quotes from prosecution arguments

“And they [the detectives] didn’t tell him what to say. You heard what he said. If they had told him what to say, the would have those statements down exactly, but there is not – There is many inconsistencies because there is many crimes and he gets them all confused to a certain extent…”

Interrogation RecordedAudiotape of part of interrogation
Highest level reachedAppeal
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • State Law Evidence Claim
Citations to judicial opinions

Townsend v. State, 420 So.2d 615 (Ct. App. Fla. 1982)
Townsend v. State, 430 So.2d 452 (Fla. 1983)

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