Hoërskool Tuine

A learner at Hoërskool Tuine was diagnosed with viral meningitis. Image: Stock Image / Pixabay

DNA evidence clears man who spent 38 years in jail

Maurice Hastings, 69, was convicted of a murder in 1983 and was finally released after DNA evidence proved his innocence.

Hoërskool Tuine

A learner at Hoërskool Tuine was diagnosed with viral meningitis. Image: Stock Image / Pixabay

DNA evidence has allowed an innocent man who spent 38 years behind bars to taste freedom once more.

Maurice Hastings was convicted in 1983

Maurice Hastings was convicted of the 1983 murder of Roberta Wydermyer and two attempted murders.

After a DNA test was finally allowed, a different man who died in prison two years ago was implicated.

Hastings, now 69, says he wants to enjoy his life and move forward.

“I just want to enjoy my life while I have it. And I just want to move forward,” he said at a press conference.

He maintained his innocence

Throughout his three decades in prison, Hastings maintained that he was innocent.

He constantly requested to have his DNA tested but this was denied. The Mirror reports that the Los Angeles Innocence Project assisted and Hastings was tested – this overturned his conviction.

When the 69-year-old was charged, the LA County District Attorney’s Office sought the death penalty.

In 1988, he was sentenced to life in state prison without the possibility of parole.

The DNA identified a match to someone else who was in the database

In June this year, the DNA test that was conducted found that the oral swab and semen that was found were not from Hastings.

The test instead identified a match to a person who had been convicted of armed kidnapping and rape. This individual was sentenced to 56 years.

“The possibility that an innocent person could be executed is real. Our criminal justice system simply has too much room for error, as this case demonstrates,” said the head of the Los Angeles Innocence Project Paula Mitchell.

DNA backlog in South Africa sitting at over 81 000

Previously, it was reported that reports have revealed that the country’s crime labs’ DNA backlog has grown by 70 000 cases since June last year.

Members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee (PPC) on police questioned the Authority of the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board (DNA Board). The PPC wanted answers about the DNA Board’s statistics.

Chairperson of the PPC Tina Joemat-Pietersen ordered the DNA Board to appear again. Joemat-Pietersen stated that there was a long list of dates when the Board said it was going to eradicate the backlog. Read the full story here.