Jun 4, 2012
The DC Superior Court has finally overturned the conviction of Santae Tribble, an innocent man who spent 28 years in prison.
Tribble was convicted of the 1978 murder of a DC taxi driver when he was 17 years old.
His conviction hinged on a single hair found in a stocking mask one block from the murder scene. The federal prosecutor pretended that the hair was scientifically proven to be from Tribble.
The so-called scientific “evidence” that FBI investigators swore behind has turned out, however, to be an outrageous fraud.
The FBI had been using something they pompously called “microscopic hair analysis.” Here’s the “science” behind it: Put the hair in question under a microscope. The hair looks black. The defendant is black. The defendant is guilty.
That’s exactly what happened to Santae Tribble. The FBI lab analysis of the single hair found in the stocking showed that the hair probably came from a black person. That’s ALL that could be determined. That’s all the original lab records indicated.
But in front of the jury, the prosecutor and the FBI insisted that so-called scientific proof showed the hair “matched” Tribble.
The federal prosecutor even told the jury that the chances that the hair didn’t come from Tribble were “maybe one in ten million.”
The discovery of newer, DNA-based techniques has finally exposed how fraudulent was much of FBI testimony over decades.
There may be thousands, even tens of thousands of other innocent people still in prison or on parole due to similar circumstances.
Those prisoners are still waiting for their evidence to be DNA-tested, still waiting for new trials.
For Santae Tribble, that wait took most of his life. He could have been exonerated decades sooner, if DNA tests had been run sooner.
But this justice system wasn’t built to serve young people like Santae Tribble. It was built to imprison them. The evidence, and the means to test it, are as heavily guarded as the prisoners themselves. Guarded – not by prison doors, but by high cost and bureaucratic obstacles and delays.