Violent crimes are among the most horrific events on Earth, but sometimes it gets even worse. The crime itself happens and then another person becomes victim to it. A person’s life can be destroyed or even taken from him or her if authorities accuse and charge the wrong person with the crime. To further compound the tragedy, the families of both the original victim and the person jailed under false accusations may not know that the real criminal is still at large. DNA testing can ultimately prove who is responsible for a given crime investigation.
Randolph Arledge was a victim of a false accusation, charge and conviction. In 1981, Carolyn Armstrong was found dead in Texas from dozens of stab wounds. Randolph was not even 30 years old at the time. Three years later, Randolph was sentenced to 99 years in prison for killing Armstrong. The problem is that he did not do it and there was evidence to prove that fact. He went on to spend 28 years of his 99-year sentence in jail for a crime he did not commit. In February 2013, Arledge was set free. Close to half of his life has been stolen from him, but he got the rest back thanks to modern DNA testing.
When Carolyn Armstrong was found, police also found her car down the road. Her vehicle contained DNA evidence but was useless at the time. Arledge is very lucky that police decided to keep the evidence, since they can usually be discarded in most cases. DNA testing was done more than a decade later and determined that another man was the killer. After a hearing, is when a local judge let Arledge go on bond until the conviction is officially overturned.
When Arledge went to jail, his two children were both under five years old. Currently, they are both adults who grew up without a father. The family is now reunited and Armstrong’s family has the satisfaction of knowing that police definitely have the right man this time. Sadly, that does not get back any of the time Randolph Arledge and his children lost.
It is uncertain just how many people have been incarcerated under wrongful convictions. DNA testing is too late to save hundreds or even thousands of them, but it is not too late to make sure that it happens much less often and never in cases where there is DNA evidence. With reliable companies making it easy for even civilians to get accurate DNA testing, there is no reason police and courts cannot offer the same.
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