A federal jury on Wednesday found that D.C. police framed an innocent man for a 1981 rape and murder, making the District liable for damages after he was imprisoned for 27 years.
Jurors found that two D.C. homicide detectives fabricated all or part of a confession purportedly made by the wrongly accused Donald E. Gates to a police informant. The detectives also withheld other evidence from Gates before he was convicted in the fatal attack on a 21-year-old Georgetown University student in Rock Creek Park, jurors found.
Gates, now 64, was exonerated in the June 1981 killing and released from prison in 2009 after DNA testing.
Following Wednesday’s verdict, Gates’s attorneys said the detectives’ conduct warranted investigation into their handling of other cases. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District declined to comment on the verdict or whether the decision exposes the detectives to criminal investigation for perjury.
“It feels like the God of the King James Bible is real, and he answered my prayers,” Gates, who lives in Knoxville, Tenn., said as he left the courtroom. “Justice is on the way to being fulfilled. . . . It’s one of the happiest days of my life.”
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