Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Thomas Doswell

First Name Thomas
Last NameDoswell
Year of Conviction1986
Year of Exoneration2005
State of ConvictionPennsylvania
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

● Three witnesses testified that defendant was asleep on the night of the crime.

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

“As God is my witness, I did not rape that woman.”

Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Valid (Non-probative)
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

The analyst accurately described that all substances observed were consistent with the victim.

Identity of eyewitness
  • Cross Racial Identification
  • Victim
Multiple eyewitnesses2
Lineup Procedures
  • Photo array
Suggestive Procedures

Yes ● Suggestive Line-up – his was only photo marked with an “R” ● Victim not told attacker might not be in line-up. Brady – victim later alleged that detective pressured her to identify Doswell. She stated in affidavit that “[t]he only reason I picked [Doswell] out in the courtroom is because Detective [] told me to and I was afraid of him.”

Quotes from testimony #1

The detective “asked if she could identify the individual who committed the assaults…” “Out of all those photographs there was only one photograph with an R on it? A. Right. Q. That happens to be the one you picked? A. Right. Q. That didn’t affect your determination was to who it might be, did it? A. No. Q. How about the fact that of all the photographs here, none of the individuals displayed any portion of their body besides the head? A. When I was shown these pictures I seen numbers and looked at the faces only…”

Unreliable Identification?

Yes ● Initial nonidentification ● Discrepancies in description – facial hair, bruises on face, neck brace

Quotes from testimony #2

Defendant had “a Fu Manchu type of mustache” when arrested, unlike the attacker, who had “a full beard.” He had no cuts on face, where the victim had “hit him on the side of the head.” He had brown eyes, unlike the dark black eyes the victim described: “His eyes are different from the eyes you saw that day; is that correct ma’am? Yes.”

Highest level reachedNR
Citations to judicial opinions

Com. v. Doswell, 558 A.2d 531 (Table) (Pa. 1989)