I. In May of 1983, in
Fauquier County, Earl Washington was arrested for breaking
and entering the home of Mrs. Helen Weeks, a 73-year-old
woman, stealing a gun and money from her, and brutally beating
her with a chair after she awoke to discover him in her
house. He also shot his brother with the gun he stole from
Mrs. Weeks. As a result of those crimes, Washington pled
guilty to statutory burglary and malicious wounding and
he was sentenced to a 30-year prison term (two consecutive
15-year prison terms) for those offenses.
2. While Washington was in custody for those
criminal offenses, he was questioned about the rape and
murder of Mrs. Rebecca Williams a year earlier in Culpeper
County. Washington confessed to raping and murdering Rebecca
Williams in her apartment on June 4, 1982.
3. Based on Washington's confession and other
corroborating evidence, Washington was tried and convicted
of the capital murder and rape of Rebecca Williams and sentenced
4. Ten years later, Governor L. Douglas Wilder
reviewed new DNA tests of samples taken from tile victim
and Washington. The DNA test results were inconclusive but
did not exonerate Washington. In light of that new information,
Governor Wilder commuted Washington's death sentence to
life in prison with tile possibility of parole.
5. On June 1,2000, I directed the Virginia
Division of Forensic Science to perform further DNA tests
on evidence taken from the apartment of Mrs. Williams and
her body. The purpose of these tests was to apply the most
technologically advanced scientific methods to the evidence
available in an effort to confirm or disprove Earl Washington's
presence in the apartment of Rebecca Williams on June 4,
6. Since June 1,2000, the Virginia Division
of Forensic Science has proceeded to perform the DNA tests
on all known and available evidence.
7. According to the results of the new DNA
tests, Washington is excluded from semen taken from Mrs.
Williams' body and his DNA could not be located elsewhere
in the apartment.
8. The DNA results further revealed the semen
of another person on a blue blanket taken from the scene
of the crime. The DNA from semen on the blue blanket matched
the DNA of a convicted rapist. However, the DNA on the blue
blanket did not match the DNA of the sole sample of semen
taken from Mrs. William's body. As a result, the Division
of Forensic Science could not confirm the DNA found on the
blue blanket was Rebecca Williams' rapist.
9. In my judgment, a jury afforded the benefit
of the DNA evidence and analysis available to me would have
reached a different conclusion regarding the guilt of Earl
Washington. Therefore, upon careful deliberation and review
of all of the evidence, - as well as the circumstances of
this matter, I have decided it is just and appropriate to
intervene in the judicial process by granting Earl Washington
an absolute pardon for the capital murder and rape of Rebecca
NOW, THEREFORE, in accordance with the authority
granted to me as Governor of Virginia under Article V, Section
12 of the Constitution of Virginia, I, James S. Gilmore,
Ill, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, do hereby
grant unto Earl Washington all Absolute Pardon from the
convictions of rape and capital murder handed down by the
Circuit Court of Culpeper County on March 20, 1984.
Given under my hand and under the Lesser
Seal of the Commonwealth at Richmond, this 2nd day of October
in the year of our Lord Two Thousand and the 225th year
of the Commonwealth of Virginia.