Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Luis Diaz

First NameLuis
Last NameDiaz
Year of Conviction1980
Year of Exoneration2005
State of ConvictionFlorida
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape
Death SentenceNo
Life / LWOP sentenceLife
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeHispanic
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Counsel argued that the defendant was the wrong man.

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

The victim and Diaz were both A secretors and the vaginal washings had A and H blood group substances. The analyst testified that 10 percent of the population, B and AB secretors, could not have been the donor and that 90% of world’s population could be donor. While this testimony was not very probative, it was not accurate. Where the substances could have entirely originated from the victim due to masking, 100%, not 90%, could have been the donor. See Part II.A.1 for a description of the problem of masking and non-quantification and discussion of similar cases.

Identity of eyewitness
  • Cross Racial Identification
  • Victim
Multiple eyewitnesses8
Lineup Procedures
  • Lineup
  • Photo array
Suggestive Procedures

Yes ● Suggestive line-up – photo array consisted of a driver’s license of Diaz but mug shots of others ● Suggestive remarks – officer twice told one victim to look a second time at array with Diaz’ photo in it; when she still was not certain, they brought him for a live line-up, and he was the only person repeated from arrays to lineup; she was also told that another victim identified Diaz. Another was told Diaz’ name and that he had been arrested before the live line-up. Victims also saw images of Diaz on television after his arrest. ● Victim(s) not told attacker might not be in line-up Brady – lawsuit alleged that police did not disclose nonid and suggestive lineup and remarks

Quotes from testimony #1

Police told one victim “that they were holding a man in custody and they had a few men in the lineup that they would like me to view.” One victim was told “Do you want to look at it again” and was shown the line-up repeatedly until identified Diaz. Another victim was told Diaz’ name and that he had been arrested; she was upset that she had not identified Diaz at the lineup, and was told not to worry and that she would have another chance; she viewed a video line-up several times before identifying Diaz. Defense lawyer commented on the photo array, that “It happens that one of the photographs is radically different than the other five that sticks out like a sore thumb.” Detectives drew attention to that photograph, telling one victim that it was an “old photograph” when she asked “why this was different from the rest because the others looked like typical mug shots . . . and the other one did look noticeable different….” That victim was also told that “there were other girls and they think this was all connected.” She also agreed she was told that police “had a person in mind” when called to look at the photos. Another described in her deposition that she was uncertain at the line-up and was told by officers “that was ridiculous.”

Unreliable Identification?

Yes ● Discrepancies in descriptions- hair color, weight, height, facial hair ● Initial non identifications ● Initially uncertain ● Non-identifications – 23 women, all assaulted by the “Bird Road Rapist,” were brought for lineups, five identified D, others identified other persons, and 9 identified none

Quotes from testimony #2

For example, one victim said she had a “clear picture” of the attacker at trial, while earlier had told police she had only a “fuzzy” recollection and had said she was “not positive” at the lineup. She agreed that she had been uncertain, but that “over a year later, [her] mind has cleared up, and [she] has a sharper picture of the man…” One victim initially identified another man in line-up, explaining she did so because she “wanted to get out of the room.” Diaz was 5’3” and weighed 134 pounds, had no facial hair, and spoke very few words of English. Victim’s descriptions varied and many did not remotely resemble Diaz. For example, one described a man that was “six foot two” and 220 pounds, with a mustache. Others described an attacker who was 5’9” or 5’10”. One described him as a “white male.” Others described a man who spoke fluent English, or with a “moderate Latin accent,” one said the attacker “had no accent.”

Highest level reachedState Post­ Conviction
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • State Court Newly Discovered Evidence Claim
  • State Law Evidence Claim
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
Citations to judicial opinions

Diaz v. State, 409 So.2d 68 (Dist. Crt. App. Fla. 1982)
Diaz v. State, 686 So.2d 679 (Dis. Ct. App. Fla. 1996)

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