Friday, March 30, 2007
Yesterday, the Innocence Project, working with the Missouri State Public Defender's Office, exonerated Antonio Beaver of his first-degree robbery conviction. DNA evidence proved that Antonio did not commit a violent carjacking near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis for which he was convicted in 1997 and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Beaver’s exoneration comes a decade after he was convicted and more than five years after he began seeking DNA testing to prove his innocence.
Beaver's story: In August 1996, a man approached a woman’s car as she parked at the Gateway Arch. He told her he was the attendant in the parking lot and that she needed to move her car. As she got back into the car, he threatened her with a screwdriver; a struggle ensued, and the man was cut and bled on the interior of the car. The victim, fearing for her life, stopped fighting and told the man to take her car. Later, she provided a detailed description to police and helped prepare a composite sketch. Although Beaver did not match the victim’s description or the sketch, she ultimately identified him during a substantially flawed police lineup. Although fingerprints in the car (including on the rearview mirror) came from neither Beaver nor the victim, he was tried and convicted in April 1997.
Beaver is the fifth St. Louis County man in five years exonerated by DNA evidence after being wrongfully convicted based on eyewitness misidentification. [Michele Berry]