Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Jerry Watkins

First NameJerry
Last NameWatkins
Year of Conviction2004
Year of Exoneration2010
Testing inculpated culpritCold Hit
State of ConvictionIndiana
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape and Murder
Death SentenceNo
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeWhite
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● A series of alibi witnesses included his minister, employer, and relatives.

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

Defendant described his whereabouts during the time period of the crime and denied confessing to jailhouse informant.

Types of evidence at trial
  • Forensic Evidence
  • Informant
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Invalid
Reason why invalid(2) Failure to exclude based on selective degradation
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

The victim was an A secretor and Watkins an O secretor. Swabs from the victim exhibited A and B substances. Rather than excluding the defendant, the analyst speculated that bacteria might explain the inconsistent finding: “You are dealing with a dead body in which you have decomposition and sometimes bacteria will acquire a B Blood Group substance activity which could possibly be causing it.” See Part II.A.2. for a discussion of this case.

Jailhouse informant, Co-defendant, Incentivized WitnessJ
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies● Non-public facts in jailhouse informant’s statement included identity of victim, how she was killed, where her body was found
Quotes from testimony #3

Jailhouse informant testified, “I said, the girl that you got the time for, for the molestation charges, is the little girl is dead. He said, yes, she’s dead. He said – and he was still, you know, he was upset real bad, he was cryin’. He was holdin’ the bible in his hands.” “He said that he had killed her. He said that he’d cut her throat. That he’d left her in some bushes in Hancock County.” “Q. Did he get any more specific about how he’d cut her throat? A. He said that – that he’d cut her throat. That her jugular vein was cut and that he’d left her in some bushes in Hancock County.” He said that it was “his wife’s sister or his wife’s – sister’s little girl.”

Quotes regarding any deal or leniency with informant, or prior use of informant

“You haven’t promised me anything as far as my freedom or anything. You told me that you would help see to it that I was protected after all of this was over.” “Did the Officers ever promise to do anything for you that you know of? A. They didn’t promise to do anything. They said that after the trial was over .. that they would talk to the people in Indianapolis and if there was any consideration or anything – it would be done…” Prosecutor denied at trial that any deal or leniency provided.

Highest level reachedFederalHabeas
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Brady
  • State Court Newly Discovered Evidence Claim
  • State Law Evidence Claim
Claims granted, resulting in preexon. reversal
  • Brady
Citations to judicial opinions

Watkins v. State, 528 N.E.2d 456 (Ind. 1988.)
Watkins v. State, 661 N.E.2d 911 (Table) (Ind.App. 1996.)
Watkins v. Miller, 92 F.Supp.2d 824 (S.D. Ind. 2000.)

Read more about this exoneration