homicide, sexual assault
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Virginia DNA Tests Show Scale Of Bad Convictions

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File photo of a microscope looking at a sample of human blood. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

File photo of a microscope looking at a sample of human blood. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Wrongful convictions for homicide and sexual assault are more prevalent in Virginia than once thought, according to a study that examined the results of new tests on archived DNA samples.

The Urban Institute study released Monday found that DNA testing ruled out the convicted person in 5 percent of homicide and sexual assault cases. When considering only sexual assault convictions, DNA testing eliminated between 8 percent and 15 percent of convicted offenders. The wrongful conviction rate previously had been estimated at 3 percent or less.

Researchers analyzed results of new testing of DNA samples archived from cases that occurred between 1973 and 1987. Of the 715 convictions, researchers found that tests in 38 of the cases support exoneration.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice funded the study.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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