Former Florida Death-Row Prisoner Robert DuBoise Freed After DNA Proves His Innocence

A Florida trial court has freed a former death-row prisoner after local prosecutors said new DNA evidence had proven his innocence of the rape and murder for which he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death 37 years ago.

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A Florida

trial court has freed a former death-row prisoner after local prosecutors said new DNA evidence had proven his innocence of the rape and murder for which he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death 37 years ago.

Based on junk-science bite-mark evidence and false testimony from a prison informant, Robert DuBoise (pictured with his mother, Myra, following his release) was convicted of raping and murdering 19-year-old Barbara Grams. The jury unanimously recommended that DuBoise be sentenced to life, but his trial judge, Henry Lee Coe III, overrode their recommendation and sentenced DuBoise to be executed in Florida’s electric chair.

DuBoise was released from the Hardee Correctional Institution in Bowling Green, Florida, August 27, 2020, one day after Hillsborough prosecutors and lawyers from the national Innocence Project and the Innocence Project of Florida presented Circuit Judge Christopher Nash with evidence of his innocence. Working with State Attorney Andrew Warren’s Conviction Integrity Unit, the parties told the court that there was in fact no bite mark and that DNA evidence from an untested rape kit excluded DuBoise and implicated two other men.

In February 1988, the Florida Supreme Court overturned DuBoise’s death sentence, ruling that the trial court should not have overridden the jury’s sentencing recommendation and directing that DuBoise be resentenced to life imprisonment. Judge Nash reduced that sentence to time served and set a September 14 hearing date for the presentation of evidence to overturn his conviction.

DuBoise was greeted outside the prison by his mother, Myra, his sister, Harriet, and Innocence Project lawyer, Susan Friedman. After hugging his mother, he spoke to an assemblage of reporters and cameras.

“It’s a beautiful day,” he said.