Nov 16, 2020 in Law

Ralph Armstrong Murder/Rape Case Exoneration
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Ralph Armstrong Murder/Rape Case Exoneration

Background

 

Exoneration occurs when an individual is convicted in a court and is later realized to have been convicted wrongly, and is finally freed. It could be due to availability of new evidence that an individual did not commit a crime. In the case of Ralph Armstrong, the court may have convicted him based on his past records as a criminal. On the case under consideration, he could have been assumed guilty of the rape case going by his earlier court cases, one of which had found him guilty of sodomy. The case will also discuss the importance of DNA test in detecting rape cases.

DNA tests are usually the best in determining whether people are responsible for rape cases and well as other cases that may have involved body fluids and contacts. The issue of justice or lack of it is investigated in this case. Exoneration may take so long due to numerous court cases; it would take some the best defense for a witness to be exonerated, like was the case with Armstrong Ralph (Scheck et al, 2001). However, justice delayed is justice denied. Armstrong Ralph took longer in prison than was necessary due to a crime he never committed. It was due to misconception and wrong piece of evidence that the judges used to convict him. As a result of wrongful conviction, Armstrong stayed in prison from more than 28 years. He had been sentenced to 150 years in prison. He was accused of raping his girlfriend, 19-year-old Charise Kamps. In order to have more insight into the case, the paper breaks down the exoneration case into parts as follows.

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Incompetence of the Judge

The prosecution deliberately withheld Armstrongs evidence of innocence for more than ten years. During this time Ralph Armstrong was in Wisconsin Prisons. It was incompetent or unreasonable of him. It could, as well, be contempt of duty (Scheck, Guiberson Online& Innocence Project, 2001).

The Crime

One afternoon, June the 24th, in 1980, 19 year-old Charise Kamps, who was a student, was found strangled in her Madison apartment. Naked, and face-down, she lied in a pool of blood, with a belt draped round her neck.

The Investigation

Police detectives who investigated her case collected pieces of evidence next to her body, including clothing in her apartment. Her body was dusted for fingerprints. Her hair was dusted for fingerprints as well. The dead victim was found to have been drunk, together with her boyfriend, Armstrong Ralph and his brother, Armstrong Stephen. The investigation also established that they had been high on drugs on the night she the victim died. Asked what drugs they had been using, Ralph Armstrong told the police they had been using cocaine with Kamps. According to him, they had been alone for some time. The time was 9:15 p.m. He, later, left her in the room and joined other friends elsewhere (Lissitzyn, 2008). Through the investigation, the police learned that Ralph Armstrong owed Kamps $400. Witnesses said they saw him give the cash to her on the same night.

The Identification

 
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Kamps neighbor told the police that while sitting in his house that night, he saw a muscular man with dark hair drive to the area in a white and black vehicle, at about 12.30 a.m. He was not sure where he had packed the car. The witness told the police that the man he saw ran into and out of the room at least three times before he disappeared out of his sight, towards where he may have packed his car. Police hypnotized the witness before an identification procedure. The hypnotist and a detective on the case viewed photos of Armstrong and the car he was driving as videotaped during the hypnosis session. The detective testified that the hypnotist had not been allowed to see the photos. The witnessed was forced to change his earlier statement that the man he saw had been about 5 feet, 5 inches, to fit the height description of Armstrong Ralph, who was about six feet, two inches tall. The identification parade had been fixed.

The Trial

The police arrested Armstrong and he charged with rape and death of Kamps. A jury tried him in 1981. The state had relied on forensic evidence, an eyewitness testimony and the alleged motive that Armstrong could have killed Kamp due the $400 he owed her (or his boyfriend). A forensic expert had testified that several hair strands from the bathroom tab and the belt used to strangle Kamp had been similar to or consistent with those of Armstrong Ralph. The expert also identified several pubic and chest hair that she claimed came from neither Armstrong nor Kamps (Lissitzyn, 2008). Chemicals were found in human blood, but the prosecutor could not ascertain from whose body they came from.

Appeals

Armstrong knew he had been wrongfully convicted. He filed several appeals in vain. In 1991, he insisted that the prosecution use new evidence based on his DNA. It could check whether the semen found on the victim had belonged to him. In 2006, extra forensic testing was conducted on the crime scene. It included mitochondrial DNA test (mtDNA). It is an advanced technique that develop profiles of DNA from samples of hair follicles that that have degraded. The mtDNA tests excluded Ralph Armstrong.

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The Exoneration

Finally, several years later, there was proof that Armstrong had been wrongfully convicted. The conviction irreparably compromised his rights. On August, 2009, he was officially cleared, but this would not compensate the time and dignity he had lost while in prison. For several years, he had remained under bars for crimes he never committed. It also portrayed the prosecution in bad light. They had fixed evidence on an innocent man judging him by his past criminal records (Lissitzyn, 2008).

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