Curits McCarty was recently sprung from death row after having been convicted not once, but twice, of the 1982 murder of 18-year-old Pamela Kaye Willis. The state at trial had alleged that she had been raped. There was seminal fluid that was preserved from the crime scene, and it was new DNA testing on this evidence that showed McCarty did not contribute the evidence. A corrupt state forensic scientist had grossly mishandled the evidence, which led a judge to dismiss a third attempt at convicting McCarty even while voicing suspicions about his involvement with the murder. However, as the state court ruling on the habeas petition explained:
The State, however, claims the DNA tests do not exonerate Petitioner, stating “at best, these findings… only exclude him as the source of the seminal fluid from the vaginal slide.” Furthermore, the State correctly points out that Petitioner had previously challenged the State’s theory that a sexual assault had even occurred.Amen. So, can we forget about this being another of the DPIC's falsely-labeled "death row exonerations"?
Indeed, in our opinion in Petitioner’s trial on guilt or innocence, we specifically noted defense counsel “was effective in eliciting from the experts testimony which indicated that the evidence of sexual activity did not absolutely support the conclusion that the victim had been sexually assaulted.” McCarty, 1995 OK CR 48, ¶ 63, 904 P.2d at 127. Because we found there was no “conclusive evidence that a rape or sodomy occurred,” the fact that the semen did not prove to be Petitioner’s is hardly proof that Petitioner is innocent of murder.
As the state of Oklahoma argued, McCarty “is anything but actually innocent of the crime… At best, this case involves a clearly guilty man who hopes to walk free because of the incompetence, or malice, of an Oklahoma City police chemist.”
Why? Because aside from the DNA, which only proves that someone other than McCarty had sex with the drug-addicted victim, and therefore is really not especially relevant to the crime of murder, the state showed that McCarty made not one, not two, but three separate and contradictory statements about the crime. The state also presented evidence that placed McCarty near the scene of the crime and that he made incriminating statements to two different witnesses.
So while a death penalty case might go out the window without an exceptional circumstance like rape, a murder charge would still be sustainable. In any case, even if it were not be possible to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, as the OJ case reminded us, "not guilty" does not mean "exonerated" or "innocent."
So why would the absurdly-named Innocence Project claim that "every piece of evidence" shows McCarty's innocence?
It couldn't be that their extremist anti-death penalty ideology trumps every other consideration, including basic respect for facts and truth?