Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Joseph Abbitt

First Name Joseph
Last NameAbbitt
Year of Conviction1995
Year of Exoneration2009
State of ConvictionNorth Carolina
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape
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 employer stating he worked that week, and his brother who said at the time of the crime he no longer lived near on victim’s street.

Did the defendant testify at trial?No
Types of evidence at trial
  • DNA excluded
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • DNA
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Valid
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

No prosecution analyst testified. DNA exclusion presented by the defense and by stipulation

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

No – acquaintance

Unreliable Identification?

Yes ●Initial non-identification

Quotes from testimony #2

Second victim initially did not provide Abbitt’s name to police, and then only told sister that attacker “reminded” her of man who lived down street. And first victim initially identified man at bus stop, who police did not arrest. “When did the name Joseph Abbott come up? At the police station? A. No. Q. When? A. When I was at my sister’s, I told her that man reminded me of the man that used to go out with my mom.” Second victim also said she was “blindfolded” during the attack, though added that she did see him briefly, explaining only “I guess he took it off.”

Highest level reachedNR