After serving 28 years in prison, Santae Tribble is no longer a convicted murderer. Tribble was found guilty for the murder of a cab driver in Washington, DC, on July 26, 1978. The basis of the conviction was a strand of hair found by the FBI at the scene. DNA evidence and other police files were never put forward during Tibble’s original trial, which led to his conviction being overturned on Friday.
“I’m overjoyed. I always felt like it would happen, but it took so long I started to wonder,” Tribble told the Washington Post over the phone. The Post had previously included Tribble’s case in a piece on flawed forensic science and the possibility of wrongful convictions across the country. While Tribble is not the first or last person to have been wrongfully found guilty based on errors in forensics, justice has been served, almost 30 years later.
Sandra K. Levick, chief of special litigation for the D.C. Public Defender Service, has been aiding Tribble in his case. “Mr. Tribble’s struggle for justice is not yet over. He will now seek a certificate of innocence from the court,” she said.
The news was long overdue; Tribble left a halfway house last fall, and remains homeless. He served 25 years in prison for the murder, and an additional three for a parole violation. Under the weight of the conviction, Tribble has yet to find a full-time job. Though the decision was handed down on Friday, Tribble was not told of the judge’s decision until Tuesday. He spent Wednesday with family celebrating the news.
“My living conditions, there’s a lot of things I have to work on, but I’m happy this part of it is over,” Tribble told the Post. “I don’t have to report to a parole officer. The conviction is gone.”