A former race observe employee acquitted at retrial after his conviction and loss of life sentence for raping and murdering a lady was overturned was nearly actually the precise killer based on new DNA exams, a Florida prosecutor introduced Wednesday.
Retesting reveals DNA present in Pamela Albertson’s vagina got here from Robert Earl Hayes, who was convicted however then acquitted of her 1990 strangulation and rape, Broward County State Legal professional Harold Pryor mentioned in a press release.
The lawyer who gained his acquittal disputed Pryor’s conclusion, saying Wednesday the proof isn’t that clear reduce.
Prosecutors used DNA proof 30 years in the past to initially convict Hayes of murdering Albertson at a horse observe close to Fort Lauderdale the place they each labored as groomers and he was sentenced to die. She had additionally expressed concern of Hayes to others earlier than the killing, he had a historical past of violence and was seen along with her shortly earlier than her slaying, prosecutors mentioned.
However DNA testing was then new know-how and his conviction was overturned just a few years later by the Florida Supreme Courtroom, which mentioned the strategy then used was scientifically unreliable.
Hayes, now 58, was acquitted at a 1997 retrial within the loss of life of Albertson, 32. The court docket ruling restricted how prosecutors might hyperlink DNA proof to Hayes and consultants mentioned exams confirmed that hairs Albertson was clutching got here from an unidentified white particular person. Hayes is Black. His lawyer, Barbara Heyer, pointed to a white observe employee because the killer and advised jurors that any DNA check linking Hayes to the slaying was flawed.
“They had been on the point of execute an harmless man,” Hayes advised reporters instantly after the not responsible verdict. His case was subsequently featured in a 2002 play, “The Exonerated,” which was made right into a Courtroom TV film.
The proof lay dormant till late 2020, when the Innocence Venture of New York requested its retesting to presumably assist exonerate Hayes in one other case. He pleaded responsible to manslaughter in that state in 2004 for the 1987 loss of life of Leslie Dickenson, a lady he labored with at Vernon Downs racetrack – an investigation that was reopened after his Florida prices had been introduced. He’s serving a 15- to 45-year sentence and is up once more for parole in 2025, however supporters questioned his guilt in that case.
“One among my greatest regrets is he took her from us and she or he by no means received to know each her nieces and her great-nieces and nephews … However largely I nonetheless miss her and cry once I consider her,” mentioned Donna Dickenson-Helps, Leslie’s sister.
Hayes claimed to have discovered Dickenson hanging from a rope in her burning dorm room. Her loss of life was initially dominated a suicide regardless of her physique having a number of stab wounds.
The retest of the Broward proof was performed by a California lab picked by the Innocence Venture. It concluded that not solely did the DNA discovered on Albertson’s physique come from Hayes however no less than a few of that hair in her arms was her personal. None of it got here from the person that Heyer, his lawyer, had accused.
“The DNA outcomes from the hair assist the speculation that the sufferer’s personal hair was clutched in her hand throughout the deadly assault,” prosecutors wrote.
Heyer in an electronic mail Wednesday mentioned there stays untested hair and that Hayes admitted to having intercourse with Albertson that night time, so after all his DNA was discovered on her physique. She mentioned different DNA was inconclusive.
Due to the U.S. Structure bar on double jeopardy, Pryor’s workplace can not retry Hayes for Albertson’s homicide. Pryor just lately wrote to the New York parole board and prosecutors to advise them of the findings in hopes it should forestall his parole.
“We imagine it’s simply as related to talk the reality about what occurred on this case and attempt to maintain Mr. Hayes accountable – to the extent doable,” Pryor mentioned.
The Innocence Venture didn’t return a telephone name Wednesday searching for remark. Heyer didn’t instantly reply to a telephone message left at her workplace or to an electronic mail.
David Weinstein, a Miami protection lawyer and former prosecutor not concerned within the case, referred to as the brand new consequence “uncommon.”
“Most of the time present DNA testing exonerates people who had been convicted prior to now,” he mentioned. Nonetheless, he mentioned at this time’s testing is extra dependable than it was prior to now.
“If (the jury) had the check outcomes from at this time, the possibility of an acquittal would have been much less doubtless,” he mentioned.
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