Man gets $4 million over wrong rape conviction

/ Source: The Associated Press

A man who spent 15 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit has settled with the city for $4 million over botched testimony by a police chemist.

The City Council approved a resolution Tuesday admitting no liability in the settlement of a federal lawsuit filed by Jeffrey Todd Pierce, who was released from prison in 2001 based on DNA testing.

The testing showed sperm and hairs taken from the scene of a rape at an apartment complex could not have been his. The police chemist, Joyce Gilchrist, testified in 1986 that hair left by the rapist was "microscopically consistent" with Pierce's hair.

Gilchrist was fired in 2001 after investigations of her work in a number of cases. An FBI report found that Gilchrist misidentified hair and fibers in at least six criminal cases and gave testimony that went beyond what her science showed.

Gilchrist's attorney, Melvin Hall, did not immediately return phone messages Wednesday.

Pierce's attorney, Clark Brewster, also did not immediately return phone message for comment Wednesday.

Councilman Pete White said the settlement was good for taxpayers and also fair to Pierce.

"The city could have been hit for much more," White said. "This guy was wronged, there's no two ways about it. He had no record at all. He was completely clean. He was an innocent man."