Wisconsin Innocence Project asks for new trial in 1987 rape case
MADISON, Wis. — The future of a man convicted of a 1987 rape hangs in the balance in a Dane County Court.
Richard Beranek has been in prison since 1990, but now the Wisconsin Innocence Project is asking for a new trial based on flawed evidence in the case.
A big part of Beranek’s conviction in a jury trial 27 years ago was based on hair evidence found at the scene even though multiple witnesses placed Beranek hundreds of miles away in North Dakota at the time of the crime.
The FBI knew during the trial that the hair evidence had limitations and Beranek’s attorneys said DNA testing has since excluded Beranek as the source of the hairs found at the scene.
Beranke, deemed a repeat offender with that conviction, was sentenced by Dane County Judge Daniel Moeser.
“We’re here today because new evidence has come forward in the form of DNA testing as well as an admission of error by the FBI that shows that this terrible crime was not committed by Mr. Beranek,” said Bryce Benjet, an attorney with the Wisconsin Innocence Project.
Prosecutors said, despite the new findings with regard to DNA and hair evidence, that wasn’t the only evidence.
Moeser did not expect to render a decision Tuesday on whether a new trial will be granted.
One attorney working on Beranek’s case is Jarrett Adams, who’s 1999 Jefferson County rape conviction was overturned. Adams went to law school after his release and now works on behalf of the New York-based Innocence Project.