Johnny Briscoe

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Johnny Briscoe
Nationality United States
Occupation Handyman
Known for Rape conviction

Johnny Briscoe is an American man falsely convicted of rape and other crimes and subsequently exonerated by DNA evidence.[1]


Briscoe had a son named Donyea in the early 1980s.


On October 21, 1982, in the early morning, Larry Smith, an acquaintance of Briscoe, broke into a woman's apartment in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, robbed the woman of her jewelry at knifepoint, and then raped her. Smith remained with the woman, in a lit room, for an hour after the rape, while he smoked a cigarette and she smoked two. He told her that his name was Johnny Briscoe. After the rapist left the scene the victim called police. While police were still on the scene, Smith called the victim's apartment repeatedly, again identifying himself as Johnny Briscoe. These calls were traced back to a payphone near Briscoe's apartment. The woman identified Briscoe in both a photo and in a live police lineup in which Briscoe was the only person in an orange jumpsuit.[2]


At the trial, a forensic hair examiner declared that a piece of hair found on the victim's bed was similar to Briscoe's hair. Briscoe's attorney used an alibi defence, stating that Briscoe was at his apartment, watching Game 7 of the 1982 World Series (in which the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Milwaukee Brewers). In the court room, Briscoe responded to a question and said that the Brewers won the World Series, making the alibi incredible. The jury took less than 2 hours to convict Briscoe of all the charges: rape, sodomy, burglary, robbery, stealing and armed criminal action. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

Imprisonment and exoneration[edit]

Briscoe spent five months in a cell adjacent to Larry Smith whom he confronted and accused of framing him. Smith denied the allegation. Briscoe's wife divorced him 10 years into the sentence.

Briscoe requested that evidence from the crime scene be tested for DNA but the St. Louis District Attorney refused. In 1997 Briscoe's motion to compel the District Attorney to search for DNA evidence was rejected.

In 2000, Centurion Ministries took the case, and, that year and again in 2001, requested that the St. Louis Crime Laboratory search for DNA evidence. The Lab responded that the evidence collected could not be found and was probably destroyed.

In 2004, however, the cigarettes from the crime scene were found in an inventory, but the district attorney was not informed until July 6, 2006. Testing proved that Larry Smith was the criminal, not Briscoe, and Briscoe was freed on July 19.[3][4][5][6]


Briscoe's exoneration was widely covered in national news. It is taking some time for him to convince his family of his innocence, and for him to get a full-time job. He is suing St. Louis County and four police officers to compensate him for his time spent in prison.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Those cleared by DNA tests struggle to be free
  2. ^ "Johnny Briscoe". The Innocence Project. Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  3. ^ "Inmate Freed After 23-Year 'Mistake'". Associated Press: CBS February 11, 2009. Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  4. ^ Paternity Testing Corporation
  5. ^ "Man Freed After Serving 23 Years For Rape He Didn't Commit Speaks Out". July 21, 2006. Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  6. ^ "Johnny Briscoe free". Capital Defense Weekly. July 21, 2006. Retrieved 1 September 2011.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)