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July 15, 2014

Three overturned cases remain unsolved

NORMAN — Three of 11 wrongful convictions in Oklahoma overturned by DNA tests remain unsolved, and it’s not clear whether authorities have enough evidence to identify the real perpetrators, according to a review of cases by Oklahoma Watch.

Not finding the real offender after an exoneration by DNA is an issue found across the country, according to the Innocence Project, a New York-based nonprofit group that pushes for using DNA evidence to exonerate the wrongfully convicted. Of the 316 DNA exonerations to date in the United States, more than half, 163, have not resulted in a suspect being identified or convicted, the group reports.

Oklahoma has seen the real perpetrators convicted or implicated in more than two-thirds of its 11 DNA exonerations — a success rate attained despite the state’s relatively high rate of wrongful convictions. The 11 wrongfully convicted men, several of whom spent time on death row, represent 3.5 percent of DNA exonerations nationwide, or nearly three times Oklahoma’s share of the U.S. population.

Sixteen other people in Oklahoma have had convictions overturned for reasons other than DNA evidence, including mistaken witness identification and false confession, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.

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