Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Kenneth Wyniemko

First NameKenneth
Last NameWyniemko
Year of Conviction1994
Year of Exoneration2003
Testing inculpated culpritCold Hit
State of ConvictionMichigan
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape
Death SentenceNo
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeWhite
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Defendant described alibi.

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

“Q: Prior to seeing her in district court in August, had you ever met [the victim]? A: No, I hadn’t. Q: How about her husband []? A: I knew her husband. Q: How do you know – or, how did you know [the victim’s husband]? A: [The victim’s husband] is – he’s a very good bowler. He’s a good friend, a good friend of mine. He used to bowl on a league at Shore Lanes when I worked at Shore Lanes. Q: Ken, you sat through this trial for several days now, and there’s been some horrendous testimony. I’m going to ask you, did you at any time break into [the victim’s] home? A: Absolutely not. Q: Did you at any time sexually assault an individual by the name of [victim’s name]? A: Absolutely not. Q: Did you at any time take money and/or rob an individual by the name of [victim’s name]? A: Absolutely not.”

Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
  • Informant
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Hair
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Valid (Excluded)
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

A blood group substances were detected on sheets, “Which means that these could not have originated from Ken Wyniemko because he’s blood type O.” “We also looked at some hair samples that were checked off a sheet, and those hair samples were not similar to the known head hairs of Ken Wyniemko.”

Identity of eyewitness
  • Intraracial Identificaiton
  • Victim
Lineup Procedures
  • Composite drawing
  • Lineup
Suggestive Procedures


Unreliable Identification?

Yes ● Initial nonidentification – Brady – not disclosed at trial ● Initially uncertain – at line-up, and said was 60% certain about composite ● Could not see attacker’s face, since blindfolded

Quotes from testimony #2

“You told the police officer, I don’t know how much good it will be because I mean he had the mask on, I would say, about 95percent of the time, you know. The only time he didn’t was when I was in a position that he knew I couldn’t see him, correct? A: Uh-uh, The Court: Answer? A: Yes.” “And I believe you testified that the composite was in your estimation a 60 or 65 percent accuracy of what the perpetrator looked like based on what you were able to observe? A: Yes”

Jailhouse informant, Co-defendant, Incentivized WitnessJ
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies● Non-public facts included explanation for lack of forensic evidence, mask attacker wore, how attacker used handcuffs
Quotes from testimony #3

“Q. And did he tell you what he got rid of? A: Handcuffs and a pair of gloves, latex gloves. And that’s basically it.” “Q: Did he tell you what he did to the person? A: Oh, that he had handcuffed her behind her back, that he had gaged (sic) her mouth with something or whatever, and that he had intercourse with the woman. Q: Did he indicates i (sic) he just did one sexual act of — A: No, he — more than one.” “Q: Did he indicate where he knew her from? A: He had told me that her husband bowled at a bowling alley where he worked at. I’m not sure what bowling alley, I can’t remember.” “Q: Did he indicate anything that he did that would cause there to be no evidence? A: Besides getting rid of the — oh, he had told me when he had sex with her, that he made her drink something. What he made her drink, that I’m not sure of. He made her drink something. Q: All right. And did he say what kind of sex he had had with her before he made her drink something? A: Oral sex and vaginal sex is one of them.” “Q. Did he do anything to his body to change his appearance? A: He shaved. Q: Okay. Did he tell you where he shaved? A: Just that he just shaved. I kind of felt that was kind of strange too. I didn’t understand that. Q: You’re motioning on your body that he shaved? A: Just mid section or what, you know. I don’t know if – – that’s what he said, I shaved.” “You indicated that he had told you that the assailant wore a mask. Did he tell you what kind of a mask it was? A: A stocking, I believe a stocking.”

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

New story stated, “The prosecution also relied on a jailhouse informant who avoided a life sentence by testifying against Wyniemko, records show.” At trial, he claimed he had already received a plea deal from prosecutors prior to agreeing to testify in Wyniemko’s case. He received only one year in county jail in exchange for that deal – he faced up to 15 years – and agreed that was testifying in exchange for that deal. The informant described how prosecutors contacted him, asking if he was a cellmate of the defendant.

Highest level reachedFederalHabeas
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct
  • State Law Evidence Claim
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
  • NP
Citations to judicial opinions

People v. Wyniemko, 1997 WL 33353595 (Mich. App. 1997)
People v. Wyniemko, 581 N.W.2d 731 (Mich. 1998) (Table)
Wyniemko v. Smith, 2000 WL 760704 (E.D.Mich. 2000)
Wyniemko v. Smith, 8 Fed. Appx. 357 (6th Cir. 2001)

Read more about this exoneration