DNA Clears Inmate of Crime
After His Death
Florida death row inmate Frank Lee
Smith is seen in this undated photo
taken from the Florida Dept. of
Corrections. Smith who died of cancer
on death row 11 months ago has been
cleared by DNA in the 1985 rape and
murder of an 8-year-old. (Florida Dept. of
By Jackie Hallifax
The Associated Press
T A L L A H A S S EE, Fla., Dec. 14 Nearly 11
months after death row inmate Frank Lee Smith
died of cancer, DNA has cleared him in the
1985 rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl.
The FBI has not written its final report, but Assistant
State Attorney Carolyn McCann said she called the
bureau to ask about the results earlier this week and they
told me, He has been excluded, he didnt do it.
McCann, who was not the prosecutor at the trial but
represented the state during the appeals, said she was
Nobody wants to feel like the wrong person was in
jail, she said Thursday. Its a bad feeling.
The family of Shandra Whitehead, who was raped,
beaten and choked in her bedroom in Fort Lauderdale in
1985, has been told, McCann said. And the investigation
has been reopened.
We have suspects that the defense has been
presenting all along, she said.
14 Years on Death Row
Geoffrey Smith, a lawyer for Smith, did not immediately
return a call for comment.
Smith died on death row at age 52. He had spent 14
years on death row.
At the trial, three witnesses testified against him,
including the little girls mother, who said she saw Smith at
the living room window, and a woman who said she saw
him in front of the victims house just before the murder.
But that woman later said the man she saw was someone
Smith claimed insanity, but the defense failed and the
jury recommended the death penalty.
Before his death, lawyers on both sides of the case
were fighting over DNA. McCann said Smiths lawyers
wanted to have his DNA tested but wanted to keep the
results to themselves. She said she refused to agree to
My whole point of doing DNA testing was that I
thought he was guilty, McCann said.
Months after Smiths death, an agreement was worked
out, and a vial of Smiths blood was compared with
semen taken from the little girl.
DNA Clears at Least Nine
Smith had two other killings on his record. He spent 11
months in a juvenile facility after fatally stabbing a
14-year-old boy at age 13. Five years later, he and
another teenager shot a man to death during a robbery.
Smith pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison,
but at the time that meant a maximum of 15 years. He was
paroled in 1981.
At least nine former death row inmates across the
country have been exonerated because of DNA testing,
according to the Innocence Project, a New York-based
group that has provided legal assistance to prisoners.
Earlier this year, Illinois Gov. George Ryan imposed a
moratorium on the death penalty because 13 death row
inmates have had their convictions overturned since 1977.