Prosecutors have agreed that the murder conviction of Cleveland Wright, 55, should be dismissed due to DNA testing that exonerated his co-defendant in 2012. In 1978, Wright and his childhood friend Santae Tribble were accused and charged for murdering two men using the same gun and in the same neighborhood two weeks apart. However, DNA testing in 2012 revealed that prosecutors and the FBI Laboratory were wrong in connecting Tribble to a hair found at the scene of the crime. Tribble was therefore exonerated due to “clear and convincing evidence” that he was not guilty, according to D.C. Superior Court Judge Laura A. Cordero.
After Tribble’s exoneration, Wright asked Cordero to review his conviction. According to U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.’s office, the discredited hair evidence used in the case should void Wright’s conviction. Sandra K. Levick, chief of special litigation for the D.C. Public Defender Service, stated, “For 34 years Cleveland Wright has protested his innocence. Today we learned that the United States is vindicating his quest for justice.”
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