Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Quest for Freedom: The True Story of Roy Brown

Justice at Last

In 2005, Brown was diagnosed with liver disease. However, instead of sinking into a deep depression, he became more determined than ever to regain his freedom and asked the Innocence Project to help him. Known throughout the prison system, the Innocence Project had successfully helped many inmates gain their exoneration and release through the use of DNA technology. However, the group did not take on every case presented to them. One of their guidelines was that they truly believe in the innocence of potential clients. Fortunately, when Brown's formal request reached their desk, they looked thoroughly into his case and quickly agreed to help him.

Innocence Project logo
Innocence Project logo

The first step in proving Brown's innocence would be to obtain DNA samples to compare with the samples that were left on the deceased body. They would also need to compare samples to Brown and Bench's DNA. The biggest obstacle was that Bench was no longer alive. However, the Innocence Project was able to convince a daughter of Bench's to provide samples. She said she consented to the tests because she needed to know the truth about her father.

District Attorney James Vargason
District Attorney
James Vargason

To the amazement of many, the DNA taken from Bench's daughter was indeed a 50% match to the DNA found on Sabina's body. Unfortunately, it was not enough to prove that Bench was responsible for Sabina's murder. District Attorney James Vargason, the man who had prosecuted the case in 1992, felt that the new test results were irrelevant, since it could not be determined that Bench's daughter was truly his biological daughter.

With pressure being applied on Vargason by the Innocence Project, he agreed that the only way to put the case to rest would be to exhume Bench's body. Shortly thereafter, a judge order Bench exhumed. Forensic experts then determined that Bench's teeth matched bite marks found on the victim's body and that the DNA found on Sabina's body was a 99.9% match to Bench's DNA.

Roy Brown recent
Roy Brown recent

In January 2007, Roy Brown, 46, finally walked out of prison a free man. The liver disease had taken its toll on his body, and he appeared understandably bitter when he briefly spoke with reporters.


"This ain't a miscarriage of justice. It's an abortion," Brown said. "That's what this is. It's an abortion of justice.

As of this writing, Roy continues to await a liver transplant. Only time will tell if he wins the second battle for his life.

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