WASHINGTON - The last of five D.C. men exonerated for crimes they did not commit has settled a lawsuit filed against the city. A court document obtained by FOX 5 shows Kevin Martin has been paid $4.3 million.
Martin was cleared by DNA after the U.S. Attorney’s office reviewed the case against him and found he had been prosecuted with now discredited hair analysis conducted by the FBI. He was given a certificate of actual innocence in July of 2014.
Martin, who now lives in San Francisco, spent 26 years in prison for the murder of a woman in 1982. Although he maintained his innocence, Martin took an Alford plea in 1984 after prosecutors told his attorney they found a pubic hair on the victim that was a match to martin.
The then-teenager admitted to committing robberies but denied being involved in the murder. DNA testing later determined martin was not involved in the rape and killing of 19-year-old Ursula Brown. Instead, the DNA pointed to another man, William Davidson, who is now serving 65 years to life.
In a statement from Robert Marus, with the office of the D.C. Attorney General, he said:
“Mr. Martin's lawsuit was filed pursuant to the District's Unjust Imprisonment Act, and it is one of several similar cases we have settled recently. In each of these cases, the plaintiffs served significant time in prison for crimes they did not commit -- a horrible and unjust experience for which they rightly should be compensated. However, we also have to be concerned about the health of the District's fisc. In this fiscal year alone, the District of Columbia has agreed to pay more than $50 million to settle five lawsuits brought under the Unjust Imprisonment Act. These are cases in which the plaintiffs were prosecuted by the federal government, not the District. And in most of these cases, the key evidence on which federal prosecutors relied was now-discredited FBI analysis of hair samples. The federal government, not the District, was responsible for that faulty analysis. Yet, current law allows judges to award uncapped damages from the District, while federal law caps damages in these cases at $50,000 per year of imprisonment.”
Four other men, Cleveland Wright, Santae Tribble, Kirk Odom and Donald Gates, have all been given certificates of actual innocence and won monetary awards. Three of the men spent time in prison for murder while Odom was incarcerated for a rape he did not commit.
Through his attorney, Kevin Martin declined to comment.