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Man Exonerated in 1983 Rape and Murder After Almost Four Decades Behind Bars



WRONGFUL CONVICTION HEARING: A hearing is underway for the release of Robert Duboise, a Tampa man serving a life sentence for murder and rape. Duboise was cleared of the crime due to recently discovered DNA evidence. STORY:

Posted by WFLA News Channel 8 on Thursday, August 27, 2020

A man convicted in a 1983 rape and murder in Tampa, Florida is set to be released on Thursday. Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Nash found that the 1985 conviction of Robert DuBoise, 55, in the death of Barbara Grams, 19, is no longer supported by the evidence. This is a result of not just the man’s attorneys from The Innocence Project, but the local prosecutor’s office. They filed a joint motion.

“Today is an important day for justice — justice for the family of a victim and a man convicted of killing her,” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said on Wednesday, according to The Tampa Bay Times. “This is painful and tragic. But it’s the truth, and when you tell the truth, justice is done.”

Grams was beaten to death while she was walking home from work, authorities said. Her body was found outside of a dentist office. The state argued that DuBoise, his brother, and a third man all participated in the rape and murder; the brother and the third man were never charged.

Incidentally, a dentist’s expert testimony contributed toward the guilty verdict. Dr. Richard Souviron took the stand to say that a bite mark on Grams’s cheek matched Duboise’s teeth “to a reasonable degree of dental certainty,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. But another dentist who recently looked at the evidence reportedly said that the mark wasn’t from a bite.

“Today, I would never say what I said 37 years ago,” Souviron told the outlet. “Today, I would say I could not eliminate him. There could have been a million other people whose teeth fit.”

Now prosecutors say that DuBoise’s DNA was not found at the scene, after evidence held by the medical examiner was re-analyzed.

Warren’s predecessor as Hillsborough State Attorney, Mark Ober, was the prosecutor in the case, according to Tampa Bay Times archives. Ober did not respond to requests for comment, the newspaper said.

At the hearing on Thursday, Innocence Project Staff Attorney Susan Friedman said that the state’s case also relied on a jailhouse informant who said that DuBoise confessed to raping Grams, and that two other men beat her to death. Friedman said that though the informant said that he received no deals to testify, the trial prosecutor [who she did not name] filed a motion to mitigate his sentence, and got him out of prison. Friedman also described him as a “close friend” of the detective in the case.

[Image via Florida Department of Corrections]

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