On July 24, 1975, a woman in Reston was violently attacked and raped.
The attack occurred around 4:30 a.m. The victim testified at trial that she was alone in her apartment that night and that she had previously left her balcony door open. She said she woke up and saw a man standing next to her bed, who allegedly told her that if she did what he told her to do he wouldn’t hurt her. She said the room was too dark for her to see the man clearly. He went on to sexually assault and rape her. The victim said that after the rape the man asked her several questions but she was too frightened to answer. He then stole money from her purse and left.
The first person the woman called was her boyfriend, who arrived at her home 25 minutes later. He called the police, who arrived 10 minutes after that. The investigator assigned to the case collected “the clothing that the victim wore during the attack and the clothing the victim put on after the attack,” according to the petition for a writ of actual innocence filed on March 7, 2019.
The woman was taken to the hospital, and DNA samples were taken and placed in the property room at the police station. The woman worked with police to create a sketch of the man she believed attacked her. She was presented with a photo lineup but could not identify her attacker.
Two months later, on September 24, Fairfax police officers interviewed a witness for an unrelated crime. This witness was shown the police sketch created for another crime and asked this witness if she knew anyone who resembled the sketch. She said the man looked like her brother’s friend, Winston Lamont Scott.
Scott’s photo was then shown to the rape victim in a second photo lineup and she identified him as her attacker. Scott was arrested on September 29, 1975 and charged with “one count of rape, one count of carnally knowing the victim with the mouth, and one count of burglary,” court documents said. Scott pleaded not guilty to all counts.
A local pathologist who testified against Scott said he performed a sexual assault examination on the victim but found no evidence of recent trauma, however, he did collect a semen sample he said had been deposited “within a relatively short period of time.” Another witness, an expert in “bodily secretions” testified that she found sperm in the jeans the victim wore shortly after the attack. Scott’s attorneys tried to have the first expert’s evidence stricken since he only ended up finding that Scott and the victim had the same blood type. Defense attorneys also argued against the chain of command for the victim’s jeans.
Scott was 19 at the time of the crime, and testified that he helped a friend paint their parents’ house on the day before the attack, then ate dinner at a shopping mall and was out with his friends until about 11:30 p.m. He then returned to his friend’s house to sleep. He testified he did not leave the house and had no car at the time. He said woke up around 8:00 a.m. the next to continue painting. Scott’s friend and his friend’s mother testified that Scott was at their house the night the crime was alleged to have occurred, and that the victim’s apartment was nearly five miles away.
Scott was found guilty and sentenced to 14 years in prison. He served five years and was paroled, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
In 2010, the DNA collected from the victim back in 1975 was finally testified and did not identify Scott’s genetic profile. It would be another seven years before Scott was officially excluded by DNA. The Virginia Supreme Court exonerated Scott in March 2019, providing him the writ of actual innocence.
Now Virginia legislators are hoping to pass a bill that would pay him $160,000 for his wrongful conviction.
“Provides relief in the amount of $159,535 to Winston Lamont Scott, who was wrongfully convicted of rape, carnal knowledge, and burglary in 1976. Mr. Scott served over five years in prison. In March 2019, the Supreme Court of Virginia issued a writ of actual innocence to Mr. Scott and vacated his convictions based upon previously unavailable DNA evidence. The bill also allows Mr. Scott to receive career and technical training within the Virginia Community College System free of tuition charges, up to a maximum of $10,000,” a summary of the bill states.