Frederick Rene Daye (San Diego, California)

Factual background. The crime occurred on the evening of January 10, 1984, while a young woman was walking from a drugstore to her car. One man (alleged to be Daye) opened the victim’s driver side door, pushed the victim to the passenger side, and let a second man into the back seat. The two men, after finding only $6 in the woman’s purse, stole the woman’s wedding and engagement rings, a pearl ring, and her earrings. Then they forcibly removed her clothes and raped her. The two men dumped the victim on a residential street and drove away.

The two defendants were prosecuted in separate trials, and at Daye’s trial the other defendant, who was known to a person who witnessed the car theft, pleaded the Fifth Amendment. A jury required almost 8 hours to convict Frederick Rene Daye of kidnaping, robbery, two counts of rape in concert, and vehicle theft. On August 14, 1984, the San Diego County Superior Court sentenced Daye to serve life, with the possibility of parole, on the kidnaping charge, and 14 years and 8 months for all other counts. He was ordered to serve his sentence at California State Prison-Solano.

Prosecutor’s evidence at trial. Daye’s defense at trial was mistaken identification.

The prosecution’s evidence included:

• Blood typing from a semen stain matched Daye’s ABO blood type B.

• The victim made a photo identification.

• The victim and a witness to the crime made lineup identifications.

• Daye gave a false name and other misinformation to the police at the

time of his arrest.

Postconviction challenges. Daye appealed the conviction, claiming an erroneous admission of tainted identification evidence, ineffective counsel at trial, suppression of the out-of-court identification, improper impeachment with prior convictions, and instructional errors. The judgment of Daye’s conviction was affirmed in appellate court on February 29, 1986. The California Supreme Court denied review of his case.

A statement by David Pringle, the other defendant in this case, was made to the San Diego County Superior Court on February 1, 1990. This statement indicated that Daye was not the other man involved in the crime; it also named the man who was with Pringle. The court appointed a defense attorney to investigate this matter. When no followup work was done by this attorney, Appellate Defenders, Inc. (ADI), helped Daye file a writ of habeas corpus petition. The petition, filed in June 1992, addressed both Pringle’s affidavit and the lack of action taken by Daye’s lawyer. Habeas relief was denied on August 11, 1992, and the case was remanded to superior court with directions to consider whether to vacate the appointment of Daye’s attorney.

The court ruled that Daye was entitled to new representation, and ADI took over the case. In October 1992 Daye’s attorney was notified that the original evidence from the trial was going to be destroyed. She filed for an evidentiary hearing to discuss release of the exhibits and DNA testing of any remaining semen stains. On September 17, 1993, the court of appeals denied Daye’s request for an evidentiary hearing. The court, however, issued a writ making $2,000 available from the county for Daye to investigate the DNA issue and authorized release of evidence to an investigator working on Daye’s case. Daye also received permission to seek habeas corpus relief after the completion of the DNA investigation.

DNA results. The report from Cellmark Diagnostics, completed on April 21, 1994, stated that DNA from the left leg of the victim’s jeans and Daye’s blood sample were amplified using PCR and typed for DQ alpha using an amplitype HLA DQ alpha forensic DNA amplification and typing kit. A denim cloth cutting of the right leg of the jeans was also sent but produced no PCR results. The sperm fraction on the jeans produced results, but they were too faint for interpretation. The results excluded Daye as the source of the DNA from both the nonsperm cell fraction and the sperm fraction found on the left leg of the jeans (see appendix for results).

Conclusion. After the results of the DNA testing provided exculpatory evidence for Daye, his new appellate defender filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus on June 3, 1994. Her petition was based on the new DNA evidence, which was not available at the time of the crime or at the time of Daye’s appeal. It was also based on the declaration of the other defendant that Daye did not commit the crime and that, in fact, he did not even know Daye. Daye’s conviction was overturned on September 27, 1994. He had served 10 years of his sentence.


This case profile is excerpted from Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science: Case Studies in the Use of DNA Evidence to Establish Innocence After Trial, a 1996 research report by the U.S. Department of Justice.