YAKIMA, Wash. - A Yakima rape victim could be another step closer to finding justice, thanks to a man who was wrongfully convicted of attacking her more than 20 years ago.
Ted Bradford was convicted of rape in the late 1990's. He confessed to the crime during an interrogation because he wanted to end the questioning and he thought biological evidence would exonerate him. But, at the time, crime labs couldn't test a DNA sample that small and a jury convicted Bradford of rape.
After he served his sentence, the Pacific Northwest chapter of The Innocence Project took up his case. They had DNA evidence tested and it did not match Bradford. Still, the DNA was not matched to a suspect... until now.
KXLY4 News profiled Bradford in a special report about the Innocence Project in 2016. Bradford told us of his ongoing litigation against the Yakima Police investigator who handled his case. That civil case was thrown out, but is under review by the U.S. Court of Appeals. His attorneys in that case used that DNA sample to help find who they believe is the real suspect.
The attorneys narrowed down a list of possible suspects to a family member of the victim. They then hired a private investigator who collected a DNA sample from the man's trash. That sample was tested at a private lab and the results came back this summer.
According to a news release issued Monday, "[the DNA sample] was compared to the DNA sample collected from items the rapist left at the scene. The lab results demonstrated that the two samples had a nearly 100 percent probability of having originated from the same person."
"The news was overwhelming," said Jackie McMutrie, founder of Innocence Project Northwest. "It is a tragedy that more reliable police practices and a thorough investigation could have prevented the heartbreaking losses suffered by Ted and his family."
The attorneys brought their information to the Yakima Police Department, the Yakima Prosecuting Attorney and the State Attorney General. It's up to the prosecutor now to determine if new charges will be filed. The prosecutor told the Seattle Times that it's not clear yet if they'll do that. The Times said the statute of limitations on the crime expires next year.
"I cannot express my gratitude to [civil attorney] Mike [Wampold] and the rest of his team, and the living, breathing saints at the Innocence Project Northwest," Bradford said. "They've worked for years to help me win my freedom. Now through Mike Wampold's dogged determination, we know who the bad guy is and we hope he will be held accountable for his horrible crime."
For more information about the case, visit www.justiceforted.com.
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