A Florida man exonerated of rape and murder in 1983 after 37 years in prison is suing for his wrongful conviction and initial death sentence, in which a disproved bite mark was crucial evidence.
Robert DuBoise, 56, was released in August last year after long-archived and untested DNA evidence from a rape kit proved he was innocent of the rape and murder of 19-year-old Barbara Grams, in Tampa.
Grams was attacked and beaten to death while returning home from her job at a restaurant on August 19, 1983. No one else has been arrested for her murder.
In the federal lawsuit filed this week, DuBoise attorneys name the city of Tampa, four law enforcement investigators and a forensic dentist who testified that a bite mark on Grams’ cheek was from DuBoise, based on a mold. defective beeswax.
“The only physical evidence implicating Mr. DuBoise was fabricated ‘bite mark’ evidence that allegedly compared Mr. DuBoise to an injury to the victim’s body. In fact, the victim’s wound was not a human bite at all, ”Daniel Marshall, a lawyer with the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, wrote in the lawsuit.
The dentist, Dr. Richard Souviron, gained notoriety as an expert after testifying in the murder trial of serial killer Ted Bundy that one of his Florida victims had a bite that matched his teeth.
Souviron, whose practice is located in Coral Gables, Florida, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment on the DuBoise case on Saturday.
The DuBoise lawsuit quotes a speech to a police chief in which Souviron said, “If they tell me that’s the guy who did it, I’ll go to court and say that’s the guy who did it.”
The lawsuit claims that beeswax was not an accepted method of identifying tooth marks in murder cases and was used “only because another Tampa police department officer operated a honey business on the side.”
In addition, the lawsuit contends that the investigators conspired with jailhouse informants to falsely implicate DuBoise and were guilty of misconduct. DuBoise never confessed and maintained his innocence at all times, his attorneys said.
The lawsuit, first reported by the Tampa Bay Times, seeks unspecified damages.
DuBoise supporters have requested $ 1.85 million in compensation from the state legislature, but that bill has gone nowhere.
DuBoise was only 18 years old when he was arrested. According to the lawsuit, investigators initially focused on him after an attendant at a gas station across the street from where Grams was found told police that three “boys” named Robert, Bo, and Ray had been “causing problems”. That was six months before Grams was assassinated.
Convicted of murder and sentenced to death, his sentence was reduced in 1988 to life in prison until his exoneration and release last year. His innocence was proven after a review of the case by the Hillsborough County state attorney’s office and the Innocence Project, which operates across the country.
“A free man for the first time since he was a teenager, Mr. DuBoise must now put his life back together after nearly 40 years in prison,” the lawsuit says. “Mr. DuBoise has been deprived of all the basic pleasures of the human experience, which all free people enjoy by right.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism