Kevin Byrd

Kevin Byrd had the wrong color skin, but a jury nonetheless found him guilty

Kevin Byrd was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 for the rape of a 25-year-old woman in Harris County, Texas, even though Byrd was black and the victim had described her assailant as white.

Byrd was exonerated in 1997 by DNA tests, although only by chance: It apparently had been a mistake that the biological evidence that exonerated Byrd been preserved. Under the policy in effect in Harris County, the evidence should have been routinely destroyed in 1994.

As a result of the apparent clerical error, however, it was not, and Byrd was exonerated.