Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Kenneth Adams

First NameKenneth
Last NameAdams
Year of Conviction1978
Year of Exoneration1996
Testing inculpated culpritNon-Cold Hit
State of ConvictionIllinois
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape and Murder
Death SentenceNo
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeBlack
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Defendant’s mother said he was sleeping at home at the time of the crime.

Quotes from Exoneree Testimony


Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
  • Informant
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Hair
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Error
  • Invalid
Reason why invalid(5) Hair match; Invalid use of serology
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

The hairs looked “[J]ust like if you dropped two dollar bills and you see two dollar bills on the floor. You see two one dollar bills. It’s obvious.” See Part II.B.2. for a discussion of this case. Adams’s blood exhibited an “H reaction” similar to the A type blood found in samples from the victim. “I believe the population is less than two percent of the people that have that” type of clumping due to an “H reaction.” No empirical data supported such a statistic. In addition, serological retesting by Edward T. Blake, an independent forensic scientist, established that the original testimony had been incorrect and that co-defendant Dennis Williams in fact was a type A non-secretor.

Identity of eyewitness
  • Intraracial Identificaiton
  • Non-victim
Lineup Procedures
  • Photo array
Suggestive Procedures

Yes ● Suggestive line-up ● Shown only three photos in addition to three photos of defendants

Quotes from testimony #1

Witness recalled seeing “Maybe three pictures” in addition to those of the three defendants

Unreliable Identification?

Yes ●Initial non-identification ● Did not i.d. until offered relocation

Quotes from testimony #2

Q. When did you and the State’s Attorney decide that these people were the ones you saw? A. I decided that when I was going to be relocated. He added, “That’s when I decided to identify them”

Jailhouse informant, Co-defendant, Incentivized WitnessIW, J
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies● Jailhouse informant testified that shortly after Williams and Rainge were arrested, he overheard them talking in the Cook County Jail about how they had killed a man and "taken" sex from a woman. ● Paula Gray, later also charged, had falsely confessed and implicated Adams, Rainge and Williams
Quotes from testimony #3

Jailhouse informant testified: “Dennis Williams said he’s glad he took care of the guy and he was tellint Una don’t worry about nothing because they’re gone. They’ll never find the pistol, you know.” And that “they didn’t really shouldn’t have took it from the lady, you know.”

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

● Post-conviction, the informant admitted lying and a Brady violation. The L.A. Times reported that in an affidavit, he “said that in exchange for his testimony a burglary charge against him was dropped.” However, on the witness stand he denied any such deal – “There was no promises.” He did admit that he was released on a $25,000 bond for burglary charges

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

People v. Rainge. 445 N.E.2d 535 (Ill. App. 1 Dist. 1983)
Illinois v. Rainge, 467 U.S. 1219 (1984)

Read more about this exoneration