the case for innocence
homefour casesspeaking outsystem failurethe dna revolutionvideo
JUSTICE DELAYED:  A CHRONOLOGY...Reprinted courtesy of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

March 1981

Arrested while hitchhiking and charged in Terrebonne Parish rape of a Houma nurse in a sugar cane field off Grand Caillou Road near Houma.

June 1982

Jurors reject claims of innocence and convict him of aggravated rape, which carries a mandatory life sentence. Sent to Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.


Begins asking courts for a DNA test.

October 1993

State judge in Houma orders the rape kit released for DNA testing. Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office and district attorney oppose the test and a judge agrees, prohibiting the testing.

Spring to Winter 1994

State First Circuit Court of Appeal and State Supreme Court deny defense requests for test, which Charles' family would pay for.

November 1996

Family asks Innocence Project at Yeshiva University's Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in New York for help.

June 1998

Charles files suit in federal court in New Orleans, asking for a court-ordered DNA test.

November 1998

Federal magistrate recommends throwing out request because conviction was upheld by state appellate courts.

December 1998

Federal District Judge Ginger Berrigan rejects magistrate's ruling and transfers case to another magistrate.

May, 1999

Federal Magistrate Sally Shushan presides over agreement among all parties and allows for DNA test.

Nov. 19, 1999

The Innocence Project's Barry Scheck calls Charles to say that the test clears him as rapist. It's Charles' 46th birthday.

Afternoon, Dec. 17, 1999

Officials at the FBI lab at Quantico notify Terrebonne Parish District Attorney Joseph Waitz Jr. that their preliminary test also clears Charles. Terrebonne judge, at Waitz's request, releases Charles on bond until final testing test is completed.

Evening, Dec. 17

Charles is released from prison and steps into a waiting limousine for the ride home. Clyde Alton Charles and his sister, Lois Hill, prepare for a television interview at Hill's home in Thibodaux. Charles was released from prison Friday night after serving 18 years for the rape of a Houma woman. He was released after DNA tests proved his innocence.

home · cases · speaking out · total system failure? · how far will it go? · video · discussion
interviews · synopsis · tapes & transcripts · press

web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation