Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Willie Davidson

First NameWillie
Last NameDavidson
Year of Conviction1981
Year of Exoneration2005
State of ConvictionVirginia
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape
Death SentenceNo
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeWhite
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Defendant’s mother and brother testified that defendant was asleep at the time of the crime. ● Witnesses testified that, on the night of the crime, defendant took asthma medication that puts him into a deep sleep.

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

“Q: How do you look upon that lady? A: Like a mother or grandmother… Q: Would you ever harm her? A: No sir. Q: Did you harm her in the early morning hours of November 24, 1980? A: No sir, I wouldn’t dream of it.”

Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Hair
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Invalid
  • Vague
Reason why invalid(1) Masking
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

The victim was an O secretor and Davidson was a nonsecretor. The analyst was asked “Q. Assuming that on this tissue was fluid from the woman’s body and she’s a type O secretor, what percentage of the male population would be eliminated in determining the identity of the man who emitted the seminal fluid you found?” and answered, “A. About 42 percent of the population.” (The analyst also had stated the figure was 58%, all except the 38% who are O secretors and the 20% who are non-secretors). No donor could in fact be eliminated where H substances found were entirely consistent with the victim. See Part II.A.1 for a description of the problem of masking and non-quantification and discussion of similar cases. The analyst testified that questioned hairs were “consistent” with the defenant.

Identity of eyewitness
  • Victim
Lineup Procedures
  • Photo array
  • Showup
Suggestive Procedures

Yes – though acquaintance of victim ● Show-up – had stocking placed over his head by police in front of victim ● Suggestive remarks

Quotes from testimony #1

Victim acknowledged that Davidson had a stocking “over his face the night he was at the detective bureau.” Davidson was asked – “You are positive are you not, that the detective kept pulling down a woman’s stocking over your face and asking Miss [], is this it, is that it? A: Yes” The detective denied saying “is this it,” but acknowledged pulling the stocking over Davidson’s head in front of the victim – “I just pulled it down and she looked at him.”

Unreliable Identification?

Yes ● Initially uncertain ● Could not see attacker’s face since he was wearing stocking mask

Quotes from testimony #2

Attacker was wearing a “stocking cap” over his face Did not initially provide police with the name Willie Davidson, explaining, “In fact, I didn’t hardly know what I was doing anyway because I just didn’t know.”

Highest level reachedNR

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