RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) – Gov. Pat McCrory has issued a pardon of innocence to a man convicted in a 27-year-old Charlotte rape case after prosecutors dismissed charges against the man, citing erroneous hair analysis testimony.
Timothy Scott Bridges was convicted of first-degree rape, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and breaking and entering in connection with the May 14, 1989 attack on 83-year-old Modine Wise in her home in Charlotte. Bridges was given ten years for the breaking and entering charge and a life sentence for the other charges.
The centerpiece of the state’s case against Bridges was microscopic hair analysis. At his original trial, an expert for the state testified that it was likely that two hairs found at the scene of the crime came from Bridges. In 2012, the FBI announced hair analysis testimony presented by FBI-trained experts exceeded the limits of science and at times overstated the evidentiary value of hair analysis.
On October 1, the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office announced that it would consent to a motion for appropriate relief filed by Bridges’ attorneys. Superior Court Judge Lisa Bell released him from prison the same day and ordered a new trial.
After his release, additional DNA tests were run on a men’s coat found on the bed at the crime scene, as well as a cigarette butt found in the coat’s pocket. None of the DNA matched Bridges. On February 16, the District Attorney’s Office voluntarily dismissed the remaining charges against Bridges.
Bridges served 24 years, 7 months in prison. Bridges is eligible to receive $50,000 per year spent in prison, up to a maximum amount of $750,000.