After 25 years in prison, man cleared of D.C. rape and slaying

WASHINGTON (WJLA/AP) - A District of Columbia judge has declared that a 50-year-old man is innocent of a 1982 rape and slaying that put him in prison for 25 years.


Kevin Martin was issued a certificate of actual innocence on Monday following a more than 12-year effort to clear his name.

Martin, at the age of 17, entered an Alford plea in 1984 to one count of manslaughter while armed in the rape and killing of 19-year-old Ursula Brown.

An Alford plea is a form of guilty plea in which a defendant does not admit wrongdoing but agrees the government has enough evidence for a conviction.

He also pleaded guilty to two armed robberies in which he admitted his involvement, but still maintained his innocence in the rape and murder.

An FBI forensic unit's analysis had claimed a hair found at the murder scene belonged to Martin. But the U.S. Attorney's Office said new DNA evidence later revealed that Brown was actually the victim of a serial rapist.

U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said Martin's conviction reversal is the latest in a string of overturned convictions during the past five years due to errors by that particular FBI unit.

The D.C. Public Defender Service in 2012 demanded reviews of all convictions in the 1980s and '90s secured by hair evidence processed by the unit, due to "troubling problems exposed in the FBI lab’s methods."

Martin was paroled in 2009 and now lives in San Francisco and is engaged to be married.