A man convicted of attempted rape in 2000 has been granted a new trial after DNA recovered from the victim’s fingernails was analyzed nine years later and found not to match his.
The Appellate Division, First Department panel ruled Thursday in People v. Hicks, 2592/98, that the DNA evidence is “material and exculpatory,” affirming then-Bronx Supreme Court Justice Darcel Clark’s October 2013 order granting the defendant’s CPL 440.10 motion. Justices Peter Tom (See Profile), David Saxe (See Profile), Karla Moskowitz (See Profile) and Judith Gische (See Profile) joined in the unsigned decision.
The defendant, Tyrone Hicks, was arrested in March 1998 after the victim picked him out of a lineup. The victim testified that she was attacked in an alley the previous month, and that she fought with her attacker until someone from an apartment above shouted and the attacker fled. Her eyewitness identification was the only evidence linking Hicks to the crime. Hicks’ son-in-law testified that Hicks had been with him at the time of the attack.
Hicks was sentenced to eight years in prison. He served his term and was released on parole and required to register as a sex offender.
When the victim went to Jacobi Hospital after the attack, material was collected from under her fingernails as part of a sexual assault evidence kit. In 2009, at the request of Hicks’ attorney, Adele Bernhard of New York Law School Legal Services, the Office of the Medical Examiner analyzed that material and found male DNA that did not match. Hicks then moved to vacate the conviction.
Clark granted that motion and the Bronx District Attorney’s office appealed, arguing that there was no evidence that the DNA came from the attacker or even that victim had scratched her attacker during their struggle.
The First Department panel ruled, however, that there was a “reasonable probability that the jury would have rendered a more favorable verdict for the defendant” if it had heard the DNA evidence.
The appeal for the prosecution was argued by Bronx Assistant District Attorney Stanley Kaplan.