KidZone Science
The Exoneration of Jerry Watkins

arrest - source:  Microsoft clipartA man named Jerry Watkins was convicted of kidnapping, murdering and raping his sister-in-law.  The disappearance of the eleven year old girl occurred on November 12, 1984 in Hancock County, Indiana.  The trial occurred in 1986 and he was convicted even after the defense attorney exhibited his steadfast alibi.

Since the event that occurred was not only murder, but also child molestation, the prosecutors used the semen to determine what blood type of the murderer.  The man was a secretor and it was discovered that the blood type was either AB or B; Jerry’s blood type was O but the prosecutors simply stated that the semen could have been affected by bacteria.  Both Jerry and his wife passed polygraph tests, yet even that didn’t convince the jury of their innocence since that information was not provided by the prosecution in court. 

After the trial, Jerry Watkins was sentenced to 60 years in prison; luckily, he was not sentenced to death.  He spent a total of 13 years behind bars but in 1992 he filed a petition for post-conviction due to the development of a new technology, DNA analysis.  The results concluded that Jerry Watkins could not have been the only person involved but they were not nearly strong enough to relieve him of his 60 year sentence.  After the second trial more evidence was found relating to the testimony of Atkins.  Atkins was Jerry’s inmate, who testified that Jerry had admitted to killing the young girl.  Atkins had been in contact with the police and the testimony was deemed incorrect.  It was then discovered that the prosecution had failed to present several pieces of evidence.  Another suspect had failed the polygraph test; several men had been found with the young girl’s blood on their clothing and had bragged about killing and raping her.

With the overwhelming amount of evidence against two other men, who later pled guilty to the rape and murder of the eleven year old girl, Jerry Watkins was officially exonerated in 2000.  Had the police paid more attention to the DNA evidence as well as the results of the polygraph tests, Jerry Watkins would not have had to spend 13 undeserved years in prison, and two violent men would not have been given the opportunity to escape punishment for so long.