Twenty-six years after being convicted of killing his foster mother, Lacino Hamilton walked out of a Michigan prison a free man. Judge Tracy Green offered an apology before releasing Hamilton on Wednesday, Sept. 30.
Hamilton’s case moved forward after a new DNA analysis by professor Greg Hampikian, director of the Forensic Justice project at Boise State University and co-director of the Idaho Innocence Project. Hampikian’s analysis excluded Hamilton.
“I called the lawyers and told them, ‘I think he’s going home,’” said Hampikian. After the hearing, Hampikian added, “The victim has held this identity since 1994. It set her foster son free.”
Hamilton had been convicted based on the word of a fellow inmate who claimed that Hamilton confessed to him. DNA evidence was not disclosed in Hamilton’s 1995 trial. Hampikian credits many people and agencies for their work towards Hamilton’s release, especially volunteer investigator Claudia Whitman, his attorneys at Chartier & Nyamfukudza, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit and the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Innocence Project.
Hamilton intends to spend his life advocating for social justice issues, said Hampikian. Hamilton and members of his legal team will discuss his case in detail on the Oct. 14 episode of the podcast Constitutional Defenders.
Hampikian’s work is supported by a grant from the Department of Justice’s Upholding the Rule of Law and Preventing Wrongful Convictions program and donations to the Idaho Innocence project. For more information on the Idaho innocence Project and the Forensic Justice Project at Boise State visit: https://www.boisestate.edu/innocenceproject/ or follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IdahoIP/