Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Ulysses Rodriguez Charles

First NameUlysses Rodriguez
Last NameCharles
Year of Conviction1984
Year of Exoneration2001
State of ConvictionMassachusetts
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

● Witnesses described how he was at home when the crime took place, and it was a memorable evening, when a birthday party took place.

Did the defendant testify at trial?No
Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Error
  • Not Disclosed
  • Valid (Non-probative)
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

Acid phosphatase was detected, but no semen, and the results were consistent with the victim’s type O. It was highly relevant that no semen was observed, because while the victim was Type O, Charles was a Type B secretor. The error was one of testing or failure to disclose presence of spermatozoa. When Cellmark performed typing of the same crime scene evidence years later, they readily observed sperm under the microscope. See Part II.F.2. for a discussion of this case.

Identity of eyewitness
  • Cross Racial Identification
  • Victim
Multiple eyewitnesses3
Lineup Procedures
  • Lineup
  • Photo array
Suggestive Procedures

Yes ● Victim not told attacker might not be in line-up ● Suggestive remarks – told to keep looking when identified another photo

Quotes from testimony #1

One victim said that the side view of Charles “looks like him,” but “they told me to continue, to keep looking,” and “I did pick out another photo.” She then “ran out of the room.” The detective then told her to come back in, and told her “Look at the picture again,” and this time she identified Charles

Unreliable Identification?

Yes ● Initial (or subsequent) non-identifications by all three victims Possible discrepancy in description – described “dark” skin, “scraggly hair and accent, did not describe gold tooth (victims said they did not see his teeth)

Quotes from testimony #2

First victim: Q: And you were asked whether you could identify anybody in that lineup, weren’t you? A: Yes. Q: And you said no didn’t you? A: That’s because I was scared…Q: You didn’t identify anybody in that room, did you? A: Not in that room. Second victim noted she did not identify defendant in photo array, stating “I just couldn’t tell.” Third victim said she was 99 percent sure at the time of the photo array, but said “I’m not” sure. Neither second nor third victim could not identify him in the live line-up. The third explained, “It was three years later.”

Highest level reachedAppeal
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
  • Jury Instructions
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct
  • State Law Evidence Claim
  • Suggestive Eyewitness Identification
  • Willfull Destruction of Material Evidence
Harmless Error Rulings
  • NP
Citations to judicial opinions

Commonwealth v. Rodriguez U. Charles, 489 N.E.2d 679 (Mass. 1986)

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