Man wrongly convicted seeking confirmation of innocence - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Man wrongly convicted seeking confirmation of innocence

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Santae Tribble was convicted of murder more than 30 years ago. His hair-- found at the scene of the crime was a key piece of evidence. But DNA testing found that hair-- did not belong to Tribble. His conviction was overturned. But to this day, Tribble yearns for real innocence.

And 2 jurors in the case agree.

Santae Tribble, who was convicted in the 1978 killing of a cab driver, wants something called a Certificate of Actual Innocence. That is, a document only a judge can sign that would allow Tribble to sue the District of Columbia for restitution.

Three motions have been filed with the court and so far all have been ignored.

When Santae Tribble went on trial more than 30 years ago Susan Dankoff was a member of the jury.

She and eleven others found enough compelling evidence to convict Tribble in the murder of John McCormick.

"I certainly remember feeling that the evidence was so strong", said Susan Dankoff in an interview Thursday. "It was scientific evidence, as it was presented, and it was enough for us to question his alibi."

In fact, an FBI agent told the court there was a one in ten million chance the hair did not belong to Santae Tribble.

Dankoff says she remembers careful deliberations in the jury room but is conflicted by her role all these years later.

"Intellectually I don't feel responsible"; said Dankoff, "I think it was a thoughtful process in the deliberations we made as a group. We made what ended up to be a unanimous decision… (but) emotionally I feel terrible".

Another juror, Anita Woodruff, told the court in the same motion.

"I remember the other jurors, when we got in the jury room, saying that if they found the stocking cap with his hair then he had to be guilty and that was it. That's what the jury based everything on. How else could his hair get in there unless he had the stocking cap on"?

The U.S. Attorney's office is not opposing Tribble's request for the certificate of actual innocence which he needs for restitution.

Up to $50,000 for every year he spent locked up.

Although Judge Laura Cordero threw out Tribble's conviction she has so far remained silent on all three motions filed with the court.

Tribble's attorney, Sandra Levick with the public defenders service, says Tribble needs the document because he is jobless and virtually homeless.

Now here's a puzzling twist. Two other D.C. men who were also convicted and then exonerated based on hair analysis by the FBI, Donald Gates and Kirk Odom, have both received certificates of innocence from two different judges.

A spokesperson for the court says Judge Cordero is precluded by law from commenting on a pending case.


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