Stephan Cowans

6.5 years
Stephan Cowans was convicted of armed assault with intent to murder and other related crimes for the May 30, 1997 shooting of a Boston Police Officer. To convict Cowans, the Commonwealth used eyewitness identification and a latent fingerprint that had been found on a glass mug used by the assailant. (DNA analysis of evidence found at crime scenes was not routinely done at the time of the Cowans trial.) From the beginning, Stephan Cowans consistently maintained that he was innocent. In 2000, NEIP helped secure DNA testing for Cowans. Despite the fact that tests on the brim of a baseball cap and sweatshirt worn by the assailant excluded Cowans, the prosecutor insisted that he would re-try the case on the basis of the fingerprint on the mug. However, after re-examining the fingerprint evidence, Boston and State Police concluded that the original fingerprint analysis was mistaken and the fingerprint was not a match for Cowans. After serving over six and a half years in prison, Stephan Cowans was officially exonerated in February 2004. He was represented by NEIP attorneys Robert N. Feldman and Steve Maidman, and by the Innocence Project in New York.

© 2011 New England Innocence Project