DNA testing frees California man after 10 years


Sunday, October 31, 2004 Posted: 9:27 AM EST (1427 GMT)

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) -- A man who spent 10 years behind bars has been freed after a judge acknowledged new DNA evidence and overturned his conviction for raping a 13-year-old girl.

The San Joaquin County judge on Friday released Peter J. Rose, citing DNA tests that showed evidence used to convict Peter J. Rose did not match his genetic makeup.

Rose, 36, of Lodi, left Mule Creek State Prison amid tears and hugs from his children, relatives, friends and law students from San Francisco's Golden Gate University who pursued his case years after evidence had been stored away and forgotten.

"I've been doing this for 25 years, and I feel like this is the best use of my legal skills my entire career," said Oakland attorney Janice Brickley, a law professor who supervised the students on the case. "It was an incredibly emotional experience."

Brickley and students affiliated with the university's branch of the Northern California Innocence Project discovered evidence thought to have been lost or destroyed and won permission for new DNA tests that triggered the judge's decision Friday.

Brickley said she was nervous about letting Rose comment on the case because the district attorney could refile charges against him. He was believed to have gone to his mother's house in Mendocino County, but a phone number for her could not be found.

The girl was raped in 1994 while she was walking to school. Rose was arrested after she told police three weeks later that she believed he was responsible. But she had not identified him during a police lineup and initially told police her attacker was a stranger. Rose's attorneys a decade ago said he was an acquaintance of her family.

Rose was convicted in 1996 of rape, kidnapping and other charges based on blood evidence that prosecutors said linked Rose to the crime. A sobbing Rose, who had no previous history of violence, proclaimed his innocence as a judge sentenced him to 27 years in prison.

The district attorney's office has until January to decide if it will refile charges. Officials there said the office had lost contact with the victim.

Rose said Friday he probably will file a claim against the state.