Meet the Exonerees

Kevin Baruxes

State: California
Date of Birth:
Incident Date: 10/16/1996
Age at Arrest: 18
Conviction Date: Jun-97
Age When Exonerated: 25
Exonerated Date: 06/15/2003
Time Served: 7
Conviction: Rape by foreign object, forced oral copulation, assault, false imprisonment
False Confession: No
Implicated by Another Youth: No

Case Details

Eighteen-year-old Kevin Baruxes was no stranger to trouble, but he was shocked in November, 1996, when police informed him that he had been accused of rape by Cortni Mahaffey, the neighbor of a friend. Mahaffy had reported to police that three men attacked her as she took out her trash. She said that one of them had pulled a knife, and that another had made racial slurs. In the trial, she described the graphic way in which one of them had forced sexual acts upon her. She described in specific detail a white supremacist tattoo on her assailant's back that matched Kevin’s tattoo exactly. Police found no evidence at the scene, and Mahaffy changed her story several times. Despite these inconsistencies, the jury found Baruxes guilty on all charges and convicted him to 18 years in prison. Five years later, an email sent by Mahaffy’s ex-fiancé, Mike Chaney, cast doubt on her accusation, and several more witnesses came forward to testify on her mental instability. Meanwhile, Baruxes had been stabbed twice in a prison fight, an attack that was almost fatal. Baruxes’s attorney quickly filed a writ requesting a hearing. When Superior Court Judge Michael Wellington heard the case on July 15, 2003, he quickly reversed the decision and dismissed all charges. Judge Wellington apologized to Baruxes: “Mr. Baruxes, it looks like you spent about seven years in prison for something that you shouldn’t have spent any time for. … When we see someone pay a price like this, it… shakes us.” Baruxes has received $265,000 in compensation from the state of California.