- Main Justice - http://www.mainjustice.com -
Ex-D.C. Prosecutor Remorseful About Wrongful Conviction
Posted By Andrew Ramonas On March 8, 2010 @ 1:45 pm In News | Comments Disabled
A former Assistant U.S. Attorney expressed remorse for his role in a murder conviction that was overturned because of DNA evidence, The Washington Post reported  Saturday.
J. Brooks Harrington, a one-time Deputy Director of the D.C. Superior Court felony trial division in the U.S. Attorney’s office, told the newspaper that he was devastated by news last December that DNA evidence proved that Donald E. Gates, the man he successfully prosecuted, wasn’t guilty of the 1981 rape and murder of a Georgetown University student.
“I can’t express how sick this has made me feel,” Harrington told The Post. “I was always trying to be about protecting people. To find out that I had the wrong guy is beyond description.”
The former prosecutor said he relied heavily on hair taken from Gates, which was discovered on Catherine Schilling, the 21-year-old college student who was discovered naked in Washington’s Rock Creek Park in 1981 with several bullet wounds to her head, according to the Post. Harrington also used a paid informant, whom Gates said he never met, according to The Post. Gates maintained his innocence throughout the trial, the newspaper said.
The exonerated man said in a letter to Gates that he forgave the former prosecutor and considers Harrington his friend, according to The Post.
“It’s one thing to say I ought to forgive and not have bitterness, but he really seems not to have any,” Harrington told the newspaper. “He was more than kind to me. He’s an amazing man.” Harrington is now a co-pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Fort Worth.
It was the first murder conviction overturned by DNA evidence in the history of the U.S. attorney’s office in the District, but Harrington told The Post that are still more people who will be exonerated by DNA evidence.
“Not only can this happen again, but it will,” Harrington told the newspaper. “Nobody has any interest in convicting somebody who didn’t commit a crime. You do your best with the evidence you have. I was just flatly wrong about it. I did my best, and it wasn’t good enough.”
The former prosecutor left the U.S. Attorney’s office in 1982 after he successfully prosecuted Archie Alston, who was later found innocent of shooting another man in Washington, according to The Post. Alston received a new trial after D.C. Superior Court judge criticized the defendant’s lawyer for “gross incompetence,” the newspaper said. Harrington dropped all the charges against Alston before the second trial was set to start.
Article printed from Main Justice: http://www.mainjustice.com
URL to article: http://www.mainjustice.com/2010/03/08/ex-d-c-prosecutor-remorseful-about-wrongful-conviction/
Copyright © 2009-2012 WDC Media LLC. All rights reserved.