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Charlotte settles lawsuit against exonerated rape suspect for $9.5 million

- The City of Charlotte and Timothy Scott Bridges have agreed to a $9.5 million settlement after Bridges served more than 25 years in prison and was subsequently issued a Pardon of Innocence by then-Gov. Pat McCrory.

“The City of Charlotte is unaware at this time of any scientifically sound physical evidence connecting Mr. Bridges to the crime, and in consideration of the former governor’s pardon and the possibility of a significantly larger jury verdict, the Charlotte City Council agreed to settle Mr. Bridges’ lawsuit for $9.5 million,” City Attorney Bob Hagemann said on Friday. 

Bridges and his attorney initially demanded $25 million from the City of Charlotte.

In February 1991, Bridges was convicted by a Mecklenburg County jury of the May 14, 1989, rape and assault of Modine Wise. Bridges was then sentenced to life in prison. Hair sample analysis was the only physical evidence introduced at trial that connected Bridges to the crime scene.

In 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concluded that prior to 1999 (before the development and use of mitochondrial DNA science), FBI investigators and FBI-trained state and local investigators often gave testimony that went beyond the limits of science in ways that put more weight on hair comparisons than was scientifically appropriate. The CMPD investigator who testified at Bridges’ trial had been trained by the FBI.

Based on the determinations of the FBI and with the consent of the District Attorney’s Office, the court granted Bridges a new trial in October 2015 and ordered his release from prison on an unsecured bond.

The District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges against Bridges in February 2016. On Dec. 1, 2016, then-Gov. McCrory issued a Pardon of Innocence to Bridges.

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