Attorneys for a West Virginia inmate serving time in prison for robbery and rape, claim DNA testing proves their client did not commit the crimes that sent him to prison. However, even with the recent DNA proof of his innocence, the court refused to set the man free, stating prosecutors would need more time to respond to the recent DNA results, and the case was adjourned until March.
Joseph Buffey, has spent the last eleven years in prison for the crimes of robbing and raping an 83-year-old woman in 2001. Buffey, who was 19-years-old at the time of the crime, was convinced to plead guilty by his lawyer, who advised the young man that he risked a sentence of 200-300 years in prison if the case went to trial and he was convicted of the crimes. Although Buffey quickly recanted his confession, he was still convicted and sent to prison.
DNA testing in May 2011 proved Buffey was not the perpetrator of the woman’s rape. Nevertheless, prosecutors resisted running the DNA profile through the federal DNA database to see if it matched a convicted offender. After a year, when prosecutors finally ran the DNA, they found that it did match a man with multiple felony convictions, convictions which included the crimes of breaking and entering, robbing a residence, and assaulting a woman.
Buffey’s attorneys question the prosecution’s motives in the case, since DNA testing proves the man guilty of the woman’s rape is Adam Bowers, an inmate who is now serving time for assault, and had been convicted of similar crimes in the past, and not their client. Why not let Buffey free?
The prosecuting attorney who fought Buffey’s release stated that Buffy did plead guilty to the crime, and the finding of another individual’s DNA at the crime scene, though it does merit further investigation, does not prove Buffey’s innocence. The prosecutor went on to say that Buffey may have been an accomplice in the crime.
Buffey’s lawyers point out their client “confessed to the crimes after eight hours of interrogation, after giving facts that were wildly inconsistent with the crime,” and then added the “victim did not pick Buffey’s photo from a lineup even after his confession.”
Why did prosecutors wait a year to run the DNA? “It would seem the prosecuting attorney,” said the co-director of the Innocence Project, “was less interested in finding out the truth and finding out who committed this crime, and more interested in protecting who might be at fault for failing to find who committed this crime.”
Unfortunately, Joseph Buffey will have to sit in prison for another three months before he gets his day in court. Fortunately for Buffey, though, he has an experienced criminal defense team dedicated to proving his innocence and gaining his freedom on his side.