Will new DNA evidence vindicate Yakima man cleared in 1995 rape?

New DNA evidence uncovered by attorneys representing Ted Bradford in a federal lawsuit now links the rape to the victim’s brother-in-law. They’re hoping the Yakima County prosecutor and police act on it.

After a lengthy interrogation by Yakima police, Ted Bradford falsely confessed to a rape and spent nearly 10 years in prison.

His 1996 conviction was later vacated in Yakima County Superior Court after the Innocence Project Northwest intervened on his behalf. Bradford then was acquitted during his second trial in 2010, largely because of DNA evidence that proved another man’s skin cells were on a key piece of evidence.

But even then, Bradford’s attorneys say there are plenty of people — including the Yakima County prosecutor and the state Attorney General — who have remained convinced of Bradford’s guilt.

Thanks to Bradford’s team of dogged Seattle attorneys, a private investigator and saliva picked out of the garbage, a new suspect was identified almost two weeks ago after DNA sent to a private lab was matched to evidence left behind at the crime scene.

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The match confirmed what Bradford’s lawyers had come to suspect: The DNA belongs to the victim’s brother-in-law.

“They can’t deny it anymore. The city, the state, they’ve tried to deny this year after year and they can’t continue to deny this,” Bradford said last week of the ongoing effort to clear his name. “It’s a great feeling to know we finally have the truth.”

While he’s relieved to finally have definitive proof someone else was responsible for the rape, Bradford feels terrible for the victim and what the revelation of her brother-in-law’s alleged involvement will do to her and her family.

“I feel so bad for this woman who has had to live with this for this long. It was just horrible what happened to her,” said Bradford, now 44. “I think the system has failed her as well. For over two decades, she never got justice.”

Yakima County Prosecutor Joseph Brusic said Monday he’s duty bound to evaluate the new evidence and has been in contact with Yakima police.

But the DNA results alone aren’t enough to point the finger at someone else, he said. Under the statute of limitations, Brusic’s office now has one year to decide whether to potentially pursue criminal charges against another suspect.

“Just because DNA is found on some piece of evidence…

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