Muncie man walks free after rape conviction set aside

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Indianapolis Star on 03/09/2017 by Douglas Walker

MUNCIE, Ind. – For the first time in nearly a quarter-century, William E. Barnhouse on Wednesday walked outside, into the sunshine, a free man.

Delaware Circuit Court 2 Judge Kimberly Dowling granted a joint motion – by local prosecutors and attorneys with the Innocence Project – to set aside Barnhouse’s 1992 convictions for rape and criminal deviate conduct.

DNA tests conducted in recent months showed another man’s semen was on the pants of the victim of the April 1992 sexual assault, and in her body.

After being convicted at the conclusion of a December 1992 trial, Barnhouse, now 60, received an 80-year prison term from then-Judge Richard Dailey.

“He has spent a quarter of a century incarcerated for a crime he did not commit,” Seema Saifee – an attorney with the Innocence Project, a non-profit organization that has exonerated more than 300 convicted felons through DNA results – said at Wednesday’s hearing.

Saifee told Dowling the case was made more tragic because “William has suffered from mental illness his entire life. …

“He never gave up hope that the truth would come out.”

The case against Barnhouse is not technically over. Chief Deputy Prosecutor Eric Hoffman told the judge he and Prosecutor Jeffrey Arnold would make a decision in coming weeks on whether to bring Barnhouse to trial a second time.