Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Omar Saunders

First NameOmar
Last NameSaunders
Year of Conviction1988
Year of Exoneration2001
Testing inculpated culpritNon-Cold Hit
State of ConvictionIllinois
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape and Murder
Death SentenceNo
Life / LWOP sentenceLife without parole
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeBlack
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Defense argued that informant recanted testimony and that codefendant’s confession was unreliable

Did the defendant testify at trial?No
Types of evidence at trial
  • Forensic Evidence
  • Informant
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Hair
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Error
  • Invalid
Reason why invalid(1), (2) Masking, Failure to exclude
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

See L. Ollins, above. H blood group substances detected eliminated Saunders, who was a non-secretor. However, the analyst included co-defendants ignoring the problem of masking and non-quantification. As Dr. Edward Blake concluded in his report evaluating the case, the analyst “failed to state that her findings eliminated Larry and Calvin Ollins, Sa[u]nders, and Bradford unless there was another semen source who was an ABO type O secretor.” The analyst testified that questioned hair was “similar” or “could have” originated from defendant.

Jailhouse informant, Co-defendant, Incentivized WitnessIW, CD
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies● Non-public details in codefendant Paula Gray’s false confession, see False Confessions Appendix. ● Informant included non-public detail that victim was hit in the face with a brick
Quotes from testimony #3

“Larry made a Rambo move to a white broad’s car” and Bradford “jumped in the driver’s seat when Calvin followed.” “Larry caught her and hit her in the face with a brick.”

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

Informant admitted he was familiar with this homicide before talking to police – and he had recanted to defense attorney in recorded conversation – but then took back the recantation at trial. He was paid more than $500 for relocation to Chicago’s South Side

Highest level reachedAppeal
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Bruton
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct
  • Sentencing — Noncapital
  • State Law Evidence Claim
Citations to judicial opinions

People v. Saunders, 603 N.E.2d 32 (Ill. App. 1 Dist. 1992)
People v. Saunders, 610 N.E.2d 1273 (Ill. 1993)

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