“But I Wasn’t There!”

The Alibis of DNA Exonerees


  • Wendy Heath Rider University
  • Joshua Stein Rider University
  • Sabreen Afiouni Rider University




Alibi, Innocence Project, Innocence Record, Wrongful Conviction


Using the exoneree summaries in the Innocence Project and the documentation in the Innocence Record, we analyze the content of the alibis of those who have been wrongly convicted and exonerated with the use of DNA. Sixty-five percent of the 377 DNA exonerees had an alibi. Fifty-one percent reported that their alibi corroborators were friends and/or family members, while only about 10% presented physical evidence to support their alibi. Those with an alibi were significantly less likely to falsely confess than those without an alibi. Eyewitnesses were significantly more likely to be a contributing cause of conviction for those with an alibi than for those without an alibi, and 27% of the exonerees with an alibi had only eyewitness evidence to implicate them. Those that had an alibi were also more likely to claim that they had an inadequate defense than those that did not have an alibi. We conclude this paper with recommendations for reforms and future research.




How to Cite

Heath, W., Stein, J., & Afiouni , S. (2021). “But I Wasn’t There!” : The Alibis of DNA Exonerees. The Wrongful Conviction Law Review, 2(3), 240–276. https://doi.org/10.29173/wclawr52