Richard Beranek- Wisconsin- Convicted in 2001 Jun 1, 2017 3:51:57 GMT -5
Post by Scumhunter on Jun 1, 2017 3:51:57 GMT -5
(Above photo credit: urbanmilwaukee.com)
The Richard Beranek case- ironically also from Wisconsin- has striking similarities to Steven Avery's wrongful first conviction in the state of Wisconsin. But what makes his unique is one of the attorneys representing him- an innocence project exoneree.
Beranek was convicted in 1990 for the 1987 sexual assault of a woman in the town of Stoughton in Dane County, Wisconsin. The assault had gone unsolved for years until 1989- after Beranek was convicted of a sexual assault in Chippewa County, Wisconsin. Police thought he resembled a composite sketch and the victim picked him out of a photo lineup.
The defense attempted to prove Beranek's innocence by putting six witnesses on the stand who stated he was staying with his sister in North Dakota at the time of the Stoughton assault.
The prosecutor in the case, now assistant Attorney General Robert Kaiser, attempted to prove his case with the expert testimony of an FBI analyst who testified that hair found in men's underwear near the victim's bedding matched Beranek.
In the end, the hair evidence was enough for the jury to convict Beranek, who was also told by Judge Moeser that they made the right decision. Judge Moeser sentenced Beranek to 243 years in prison.
However, in recent years, new evidence has arguably put Beranek's guilt into doubt, thanks in part due to research from the Innocence Project and lawyer Jarrett Adams. Adams was wrongfully convicted as an Illinois teenager to 28 years in prison for a sexual assault at a college dorm. He served 8 years before the innocence project freed him in 2007. He used his newly found freedom to go to law school and become an Innocence Project lawyer himself.
Now there is new DNA analysis that has excluded Beranek as the source of the hairs. The FBI itself has admitted problems and mistakes in past hair and fiber cases, which was mainly used before 2000 when DNA testing became widely available. According to the FBI, they made errors in 90 percent of hair and fiber cases, including 13 in Wisconsin, with Beranek being one of them.
Now Jarrett Adams and the rest of Beranek's innocence project defense team are trying to get him exonerated. Presiding over the case will be Judge Moeser once again (who had previously retired from the bench). Now assistant Attorney General Robert Kaiser still believes the first jury got it right, and has raised questions about the chain-of-custody of the original hair evidence.
According to reports, Judge Moeser is expected to make a decision soon on whether or not to grant Beranek a new trial.
Thoughts? I feel this is a unique case since this is the first time I've ever read/heard about an Innocence Project defendant being represented by an Innocence Project exoeree. Also it is unique to me that the same Judge and prosecutor are once again back on the same case despite it now being 27 years since conviction.
Also, it should be noted one point Adams has brought up in Beranek's defense is that the perpetrator was initially believed by authorities to be local. According to articles, the victim had been subjected to stalking and obscene phone calls for months prior to her attack, and even got a creepy warning note in her mail well after the crime — and while Beranek was incarcerated in the Chippewa County case.
Also, I realize Beranek is not exactly a choir boy. The Chippewa County case does not seem to be in dispute. However, we don't convict someone of one crime just because they committed another. If Beranek is really innocent, it would be a disservice to the victim if the real perpetrator is still out there. Admittedly, it seems unlikely anyone else will ever be charged even if Beranek is freed and/or exonerated since the original prosecutor still seems to believe in his guilt. However, at least there would be a chance.
Once again, we post these cases to discuss them and not to necessarily state whether or not we think an Innocence Project convict is innocent or guilty. And I will adhere to that rule here. However, while I feel AG Kaiser has a valid point in questioning the handling of the hair/DNA evidence, I also believe Beranek should at least get a new trial and there a jury can look at the facts and decide.