Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Nathaniel Hatchett

First NameNathaniel
Last NameHatchett
Year of Conviction1998
Year of Exoneration2008
State of ConvictionMichigan
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaBench Trial
Type of CrimeRape
Death SentenceNo
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeBlack
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Three witnesses testified that defendant was with them at the time of the crime.

Did the defendant testify at trial?No
Types of evidence at trial
  • Confession
  • DNA excluded
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
Were non-public facts alleged?Yes
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • DNA
  • Hair
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Vague
  • Valid (Excluded)
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

DNA testing excluded Hatchett. Serology testimony correctly explained the problem of masking. Analyst who conducted hair comparison stated that the hair at the crime scene was “consistent” with Hatchett’s (though no comparison with the victim’s hair was conducted).

Identity of eyewitness
  • Cross Racial Identification
  • Victim
Lineup Procedures
  • Showup
Suggestive Procedures

Yes ● Show-up –in-court, no identification procedure conducted previous to that

Unreliable Identification?

No – but no details of description provided and victim did not get good look at attacker

Quotes from testimony #2

Victim briefly saw attacker initially and “saw him a couple of times while he was driving,” but “He threatened me not to to look at him or he would kill me.” At trial, victim described only a black man who wore a hood. The description police received was of a “tall black male wearing dark clothing and reported to have a polo-type sweater shirt or jacket and dark baggy pants.”

Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies

● Victim was a white woman ● Victim was forced into her car ● Victim had infant car seat in back seat ● Told victim not to look and raped victim ● Implied he had a gun ● Told victim it was her “lucky day” ● Left victim on service drive near expressway ● Described victim’s pubic hair BUT denied taking victim’s pursue or contents, whereas victim described assailant taking contents of purse

Quotes from law enforcement testimony

Q. Did you ever supply the Defendant with details, specific details of the offense so that he would be able to recite them back to you when and if he decided to give you a statement about his knowledge and involvement with these crimes? A. I didn’t. Q. You say you didn’t, so I will ask the next question: Did you hear anyone else or see anyone else provide him with the kind of details that he eventually later gave you demonstrating his knowledge and involvement in this crime? A. No. As a matter of fact, as lead investigator I was the only one privy to such details at this point.

Quotes from prosecution arguments

The Defendant not only confessed generally to kidnapping, raping and stealing [the victim’s] car but also gave very specific facts regarding the crimes charged here. He gave specificity as to the day, time, circumstances, right down to [the victim’s] purse being stolen, and the car seat for the baby that was in the back of the car, and also to ordering the victim not to look at him during the course of the incident so that she wouldn’t be able to identify him later.

Interrogation RecordedAudio recording of part of interrogation
Highest level reachedFederalHabeas
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Jackson Claim
  • State Law Evidence Claim
  • Suggestive Eyewitness Identification
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
  • OG
Citations to judicial opinions

People v. Hatchett, 2000 WL 33419396 (Mich.App. 2000)
Hatchett v. Withrow, 185 F.Supp.2d 753 (E.D.Mich. 2002)

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