Meet the Exonerees

Nathaniel Hatchett

State: Michigan
Date of Birth: 1981
Incident Date: 11/11/1996
Age at Arrest: 17
Conviction Date: 1998
Age When Exonerated: 29
Exonerated Date: 2008
Time Served: 12
Conviction: Rape
False Confession: Yes
Implicated by Another Youth: No

Case Details

“They kept telling me what to say, and I got confused. I told them I didn't rape nobody but they wouldn't listen. I was 17, and scared, and I didn't know what to think. I started getting tired, and I just told them what they wanted to hear.” That’s how Nathaniel Hatchett described the seven-hour police interrogation that eventually caused him to falsely confess to carjacking and rape. Police targeted Hatchett for interrogation after he was discovered in the victim’s vehicle, which he had entered after finding it abandoned. After learning of his confession, moreover, the victim identified Hatchett as her attacker for the first time while testifying against him in court; before learning that Hatchett had confessed, she had been unable to identify anyone. DNA testing before trial excluded Nathaniel as the source of semen found on the victim, but the state argued that the semen could have been deposited by her husband during an earlier consensual encounter. Prosecutors did not reveal that the DNA testing had also excluded the victim's husband. After serving twelve years, Hatchett's attorneys finally secured post-conviction DNA testing that revealed that the semen matched neither Hatchett nor the victim's husband. Hatchett was released from prison on April 14, 2008.