Wrongful conviction: DNA links two men in prison to 1983 cold case

Two men serving life sentences for murder in a Florida prison have been linked to two other murders using newly discovered DNA samples, leading to the acquittal of another man who wrongly served 37 years in prison for the rape and murder of Barbara Grams. in 1983.

Amos Robinson and Abron Scott allegedly raped and murdered 19-year-old Grams, whose beaten body was found behind a dental office in Tampa Heights on Aug. 18, 1983, Hillsborough County attorney Andrew Warren said at a news conference Thursday after he was suspended. . as the prosecutor by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for his stance against criminalizing abortion providers.

A grand jury indicted Robinson and Scott on Thursday for the rape and murder of Linda Lansen, whose beaten body was found in July 1983 in the city and the country with a gunshot wound to the head, Warren said.

“These two men not only robbed me, but they robbed a 7-year-old girl of her mother,” Lansen’s niece Linda Sheffield said at Thursday’s press conference.

“If they are killed initially, the shock is there, but 39 years later, the shock is no longer there,” she said. “But the emptiness remains, and the pain remains and the crying remains. It won’t go away.”

Robinson and Scott are also subjects of other cold case studies from the same time period in the Tampa Bay area, Warren said.

“We now know that these two men committed a sinister series of rapes and murders in Tampa Bay during the summer and fall of 1983,” Warren said.

It’s unclear if Robinson and Scott currently have attorneys.

DNA EVIDENCE LEADS TO EXONERATION AND NEW BELIEF

In 2018, Warren’s office established a Conviction Review Unit to reverse and prevent wrongful convictions. Two years later, Robert DuBoise, who served 37 years in prison for the rape and murder of Grams, was acquitted.

“Our investigation has found DNA evidence showing that Robert did not kill Barbara Grams, but that DNA evidence has provided new clues and initiated a new investigation,” Warren said.

The DNA sample, which contained no material from DuBoise, was run through a national database of DNA samples from convicted felons and led investigators to Scott and Robinson, who were already serving life sentences in a Florida prison for a murder they committed in October. Pinellas County had committed from 1983, Warren said.

With that information, investigators were able to build a case for Grams’ murder and open a cold case investigation into Lansen’s murder.

At the time of DuBoise’s trial, there was no physical or circumstantial evidence linking DuBoise to the attack, according to The Florida Innocence Project.

Before being convicted, he was transferred to the Hillsborough County Jail. A prison informant who spoke to DuBoise later falsely testified that DuBoise confessed to the crime while in prison, The Florida Innocence Project said.

“I am saddened for the families who have waited so long for a real closure,” DuBoise told CNN on Friday. “I spent 37 years in prison for a crime in which I was totally innocent. This is what happens when the police focus on the wrong person, come up with evidence that fits their theory and don’t investigate to get to the truth. Lives are being ruined and communities are being ruined less safe.”

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