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Appeal Court Throws Out Rape Conviction And Says Forensic Evidence Not Enough

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Oscar Ingraham outside of court at an earlier appearance.

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

A MAN was acquitted of rape on appeal after the Court of Appeal found the forensic evidence in his case was not sufficient to have been left to the jury for deliberation.

Oscar Ingraham, 33, appeared before the appellate court for his substantive hearing of his appeals in February and April of this year concerning the separate sexual assaults of two women in 2012.

For the first attack, which took place on February 28, 2012, Ingraham was sentenced to 10 years for burglary, 15 years for each of the two counts of armed robbery and 25 years for rape.

Regarding the second incident, which happened between 11pm on May 29 and 5am on May 30, 2012 during an island wide power-outage, Ingraham was sentenced to 15 years for burglary, 20 years for the single count of armed robbery and 30 years for rape.

The sentences for the two incidents were imposed on the same day - October 7, 2014 - and were ordered to run concurrently.

In February, Justices Dame Anita Allen, Jon Isaacs and Stella Crane-Scott quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial concerning the first case, the February 2012 incident, after it was determined the trial judge misdirected the jury during summation that if they had reasonable doubt that they should convict Ingraham.

Concerning the latter case, the appellate court published a 19-page judgement on Monday explaining why they allowed Ingraham's appeal and arguments against the DNA evidence produced at the second trial.

"Y-STR analysis looks specifically at the Y-chromosome, present in only males, to examine the genetic variants or tandem repeats thereon," the judgment of the justices noted.

"In the present case, the analysis revealed that the appellant could not be excluded as a contributor, and further, that all males paternally related to him, could not be excluded either.

"With respect to the statistical evaluation of a random match probability of the haplotype -- ie the DNA profile of the Y chromosome -- occurring, the DNA analyst indicated that a match had not occurred in the database she searched of 1,932 African-American haplotypes.

"She gave no further evaluation concerning the significance of her findings. As such, the DNA evidence was adduced with no indication of how statistically robust or strong it was; therefore, the fundamental question left unanswered by the evidence was, what is the probability that an innocent suspect will match the crime scene haplotype?"

The judgment continued: "In the premises, the jury would not have known what to make of the fact that the tandem repeat patterns on the appellant's blood sample match those on the Y chromosome taken from the complainant's underwear. In the circumstances, 'the jury doesn't know whether the patterns of the DNA profile are as common as pictures with two eyes, or as unique as the Mona Lisa.'

"With no other evidence, whether of motive or opportunity on the part of the appellant to commit these offences, or any evidence which would give the DNA its significance, the DNA evidence in this case ought not to have been left for the consideration of the jury and the verdict is unsafe."

The presiding appellate panel found it was not in the interests of justice to order a new trial concerning the May 2012 incident and ordered a verdict of acquittal be entered for Ingraham.

Ingraham appeared on his own behalf in the appellate proceedings while Darrell Taylor appeared for the Crown.

The full judgment is available on the Court of Appeal's website.

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