A shoe impressionist spoke about the shoe print left on Nathaniel Jones’ car. The print belongs to a pair of Air Force 1’s, a popular Nike shoe.
FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Three superior judges are considering exonerating four of the five men who murdered NBA star Chris Paul’s grandfather.
Nearly 20 years ago, Nathaniel Jones was found beaten to death outside his Winston-Salem home.
On day two of the hearing, shoe impressionist, William Bodziak took the stand and explained that this popular Nike shoe has nothing special about the wear, and they see a huge percentage of them in various cases.
“To use those features and infer that this shoe is one of a kind is very misleading,” Bodziak said.
Attorneys argued the case through the sneaker print left on the hood of Jones’ car. The print matched the size, style, and general wear pattern of a pair of sneakers found at the Banner-Cauthen residence. Nike Air Force 1’s were a popular shoe at the time. Four pairs of the Nikes were found at the brothers’ house. Later, all five boys were convicted on a witness’ testimony, personal statements, and a sneaker impression.
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According to the impressionist, the photos that were used in the original trial did not include the original negatives. Instead, these second-hand photos were mistaken for negatives.
“It appears as if the negatives were never acquired,” Bodziak explained. “They only utilized photographic prints made by another person. The person must have interpreted those as being negative impressions because they were taken at face value. They do not know what the original negatives contained.”
Bodziak went on to explain how there were positive impressions left on the hood of Jones’ car.
“These were positive impressions,” Bodziak said. “They were directly transferred on a white-colored residue or dust from the shoe to the dark-colored hood of the car.”
On Monday, state officials reviewed the innocence claims and ruled a judicial review after a key witness recanted her testimony.
“The things that were true about those statements in 2002 and reviewed by the separate panels are still true today,” the state said.
Two years after Jones’ death, brothers Rayshawn Banner and Nathaniel Cauthen were convicted of murder and robbery. They were sentenced to life in prison. In 2005, three others were held accountable for the death. Since then, the five teens have been referred to as the “Winston-Salem 5.”
The defense said, “We have a simple burden in this case, and that is to prove to you all by clear and convincing evidence on the record already before you, and what we’ll see [is] that they are innocent.”
No DNA testing was done during the pretrial, even though DNA testing was available in 2002.
Law enforcement took hair samples and blood from the boys, but no physical evidence from the crime scene was directly linked to them, according to the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence.
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