Nathan Brown walked out of the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center today after a Jefferson Parish judge overturned his 1997 attempted aggravated rape conviction based on new DNA evidence proving his innocence and pointing to another man who lived near where the assault occurred and is currently incarcerated on a felony in Mississippi. The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office joined the Innocence Project in requesting that the conviction be overturned. Brown, who always maintained his innocence, wrongly served nearly 17 years for the crime due to a cross-racial misidentification and an inadequate defense lawyer whom he met the first day of trial.
“Mr. Brown is another victim of an unduly suggestive police show-up procedure,” said Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law in New York. “There are best practices to minimize the risk of misidentification from a one-on-one show-up, and we’re hopeful that this case will inspire law enforcement in Louisiana to adopt the procedures recommended by the International Associations of the Chiefs of Police.”
Brown, who is black, was 23-years-old when he was charged with the August 1997 attempted rape of a white woman that occurred in the courtyard of the apartment complex where they both lived. After returning from a night out with friends, the victim was tackled to the ground from behind while walking to her apartment. The assailant bit her neck, ripped her dress open and took her purse before the victim was able to fend him off by striking him with her high heels, which she was carrying. The victim saw him flee on a bike shortly before reporting the incident to a police officer who had been called by neighbors who heard her screams.