Jerry Miller

On April 23, 2007, Jerry Miller became the 200th person in the United States to be exonerated by DNA. Though he had been paroled a year earlier, Miller had spent more than 24 years in prison for a rape that he did not commit.
The crime occurred shortly after 9:30 p.m. on September 16, 1981, as the victim walked to her car on the roof deck of a garage near downtown Chicago. As she opened the car door, a man pushed her into the car, beat, robbed, and raped her. He then forced her into the trunk of the car and tried to drive out of the garage, but the garage cashier recognized the victim's car and summoned other garage employees. The rapist fled on foot and garage employees freed the victim, who was hospitalized.

From descriptions provided both by the victim and by garage employees, police prepared a composite sketch of the rapist. A police officer who saw the sketch thought it resembled Miller, whom the officer claimed to have seen several days earlier looking into the window of a parked car. Miller, who had no criminal record, was arrested and put into a police lineup. Two garage employees identified him as the man they had seen jump out of the victim's car and flee. The victim failed to identify Miller from a photograph which she was shown in the hospital, but at trial she testified that he looked like the man who raped her, although his facial hair was different. Miller and his father testified that they were watching a pay-per-view boxing match between Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard at the time of the crime.

The Innocence Project affiliated with Cardozo School of Law accepted Miller's case in 2005 and obtained DNA testing indicating a man named Robert Weeks was the rapist. Weeks could not be prosecuted for the crime because the statute of limitations had run, but he was incarcerated for other sexual assaults. In 2007, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office acknowledged Miller's innocence and Governor Rod Blagojevich granted him a pardon based on innocence. Three years later, the City of Chicago settled a civil rights suit brought on Miller's behalf for $6.3 million.

— Rob Warden