Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Lonnie Erby

First Name Lonnie
Last NameErby
Year of Conviction1986
Year of Exoneration2003
Testing inculpated culpritCold Hit
State of ConvictionMissouri
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape
Death SentenceNo
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeBlack
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Defendant’s girlfriend testified that defendant was with her during the times of two of the attacks. This testimony was corroborated by her daughter. ● Defendant’s sister testified to dropping off clothes for defendant at his home around the time of fourth attack. ● Clerk at a Rent-a-Center testified that, based on receipts, defendant and his girlfriend were at the store at the time of the first attack.

Did the defendant testify at trial?No
Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Invalid
Reason why invalid(1) Masking
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

The victim and Erby were both O secretors. The analyst testified that “the victim had intercourse with someone who was either a type O secretor, in which case the H antigen came both from the victim and the suspect or the victim and the male or the person she had intercourse with was a non-secretor and everything came from her. We know that it could not have been a type A person or a type B person because neither of those antigens were present, therefore, she had intercourse with either an O secretor or a non-secretor.” See Part II.A.1 for a description of the problem of masking and non-quantification and discussion of similar cases.

Identity of eyewitness
  • Intraracial Identificaiton
  • Victim
Multiple eyewitnesses4
Lineup Procedures
  • Lineup
  • Photo array
Suggestive Procedures

Yes ● Show-up ● Suggestive line-up ● Suggestive remarks ● Victims not told attacker might not be in line-up

Quotes from testimony #1

First victim was also told that the man she identified in the line-up was the same that she had identified in the photo array. Second victim noted, “Was this the one man, one picture you picked out, was he the only man who had a beard or moustache? A. Yes, sir.” Third victim was shown a photo of Erby from the St. Louis Post Dispatch prior to viewing the line-up. “They said, ‘can you identify this man from the paper,’ and I looked at it.” Fourth victim testified: “Sixth district came and picked me up from the house. And they told me that they needed me down to the station to identify the man because they believe that they have him.” They told her that they had arrested someone.

Unreliable Identification?

Yes ● Initial nonidentification ● Discrepancy in description – facial hair, hair

Quotes from testimony #2

One victim did not initially identify Erby, explaining, “I didn’t recognize him, I was scared,” so was asked to “go take a second look” at the line-up. In police report, one victim described a moustache, but no beard – at trial she testified that he had a “little beard.” Two other victims described no facial hair in their testimony. An officer said one had mentioned a beard. One victim described “short” hair, while another described longer hair and another described a medium afro.

Highest level reachedState Post­ Conviction
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
  • Sentencing — Noncapital
Citations to judicial opinions

State v. Erby, 735 S.W.2d 148 (Mo. App. 1987)
Erby v. State, 796 S.W.2d 927 (Mo. App. 1990)
Erby v. State, 829 S.W.2d 488 (Mo. App. 1992)