Pennsylvania Innocence Project Exoneration
Duquesne Law Students Work Leads to Exoneration
Daniel Carnevale, who lost 4,967 days for a crime he did not commit, is expected to be released today, March 18, from Allegheny County Jail. Fifteen Duquesne University law students played a key role in helping the Pennsylvania Innocence Project-which is housed at the University-exonerate Carnevale.
In 2007, Carnevale was convicted and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences after being arrested for a Bloomfield apartment building fire that killed three people. He has always maintained his innocence since he was first questioned about the 1993 fire.
Carneval's release marks the 18th exoneration of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. "Thanks to the generosity of so many individuals and the sheer force of will of Mr. Carnevale himself, hopefully today he will be home with his family and begin the process of re-building." said attorney Elizabeth DeLosa, a 2010 law alumna who manages the Pittsburgh office of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project and represents Carnevale.
"This case is somewhat unique, I think, in that it was actually worked on by two of Duquesne law school's clinical programs-the Federal Litigation Clinicand the Pennsylvania Innocence Project," DeLosa added.
Carnevale wrote to the Pa. Innocence Project for help in 2009, but his case hadn't yet reached complete review when, in 2015, attorney Adrian Roe (a supervising attorney's for Duquesne's Federal Litigation Clinic) was appointed to represent Carnevale before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The Pennsylvania Innocence Project continued its internal review and investigation into Carnevale's claims of innocence.
In 2016, Roe reached let DeLosa know that Carnevale was denied relief. At that time, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project reached out to Douglas Carpenter, vice president and principal engineer with Combustion Science and Engineering, Inc.-a nationally recognized expert in fire science and arson investigations. "We asked if he'd be willing to review the facts of Mr. Carnevale's case," said DeLosa. "Mr. Carpenter spent countless hours-all pro bono-conducting an in-depth review of the 1993 cause and origin investigation, ultimately concluding that when a modern scientific approach was applied...the only scientifically reliable determination was that this fire was most likely accidental and not the result of arson. In other words, no crime occurred here."
Lawyers and paralegals from Duane Morris, PNC and Potomac Law Group partnered with the Project, giving countless pro-bono hours, to draft a post-conviction relief act petition and eventually litigate on behalf of Carnevale.
"Our Partnership with Duquesne School of Law is the life-blood of our organization," DeLosa said. "We simply could not do this work without Duquesne's help."
Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 8,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University’s academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.
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