INNOCENT MAN FREED
AFTER TWO DECADES
Police used DNA evidence to arrest a man for a rape
after DNA testing exonerated another man who served
two decades in prison for the crime.
Bernard Webster was convicted of the assault, but was
released Nov. 7 after DNA tests proved he could not
have been the rapist. Darren Powell, 36, was arrested
Monday morning as he walked to work, Baltimore County
Investigators reopened the case and reviewed it with
technology that did not exist in 1982. The 20-year-old
evidence was submitted to Maryland's Combined DNA
Index System, a statewide database set up in 1994 and
maintained by the Maryland State Police.
In Maryland, felons must submit DNA samples that are
acquired by an oral swab. Because Powell had been
convicted of a past felony, his DNA was in the
database, enabling investigators to get a warrant for
Powell faces charges of first and second-degree rape,
first-degree assault, first-degree sex offense and
He was being held without bail in the Baltimore County
Webster was 19 when a 47-year-old teacher identified
him as the man who broke into her home and raped her
Webster's lawyers said he wasn't entitled to
compensation from the state for his time in prison,
and he has no family, friends, job or home. He had
been scheduled for release in February.
Two Baltimore-area state senators have pledged that if
neither the governor nor the governor-elect takes
steps to compensate him, they will push for a bill
that pays him for his time behind bars.
On Nov. 7, Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge
Christian M. Kahl ordered Webster freed, saying,
"Justice moves slow at times, and in your case, it
moved very, very slow."
That is most of an adult life, and no compensation!
Nothing can compensate for this, but something must be
done - a system that makes no attempt to compensate is