In 2013, Dustin Duty, a Duval County man was wrongfully convicted of armed robbery and was subsequently sentenced to twenty years in prison. Duty is now thirty-six years old, but when he was convicted of the armed robbery of a woman, her identification of him was incredibly uncertain and heavily influenced by the police, as the appellate court ruled in their decision. The court also found that Duty’s employer, who could have been a pivotal alibi witness, was wrongfully not called to testify during trial. The court stated that:
“Appellant [Duty] was not wearing the same clothes as the perpetrator, and neither the clothes alleged to have been worn, nor the money stolen, were ever located by officers … [a]dditionally, Appellant steadfastly claimed an alibi via Mr. Davis [his employer] which Appellant’s trial counsel failed to effectively investigate and present. Notably, the jury was searching for an alibi, submitting the following question after they began deliberations: ‘The victim stated her assailant was dressed as a construction worker. Was the defendant employed and did he have an alibi for the time involved?”
Credit: Florida Department of Corrections
After serving seven years of this improper sentence, Duty’s conviction has been overturned and the First District Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial in Duval County. Prosecutors in Duval chose instead to drop the case and set Duty free. Duty was a client of the Innocence Project of Florida and the Miami Law Innocence Clinic and asked prosecutors to drop his case since the court of appeals found “egregious errors” in his defense during trial. These errors included a failure to corroborate an alibi from his employer which supported Duty’s claim of innocence. Seth Miller, the executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida, and Craig Trocino, the director of the Miami Law Innocence Clinic, made a joint statement during which they said:
“As the [appellate] court concluded, trial counsel’s errors denied him the representation he deserved and deprived the jury of hearing critical evidence that proved Mr. Duty did not commit this crime… this case should not have been prosecuted in the first place. But the prosecution now has the chance to make it right by dropping this case and not attempting to retry it. We urge them to do just that.”
Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney. Don has achieved over 100 not guilty verdicts at trial and over 2,000 dismissals.