DNA Evidence Leads To New Suspect Charged In 1982 Norman Rape Case

Monday, July 14th 2014, 10:49 pm
By: News 9

A new suspect is identified in a 1982 rape case after another man was wrongfully convicted. Thomas Webb spent more than 13 years in prison before being released in 1996.

The journalism group Oklahoma Watch pushed for the new DNA testing. The DNA evidence matched Gilbert Duane Harris, 58, of Biloxi, Mississippi to the crime in 2006. It was reported to Oklahoma authorities, but steps were never taken to pursue charges until now.

“It’s a piece of the puzzle that God is revealing of what really happened,” said Webb, who spent time for a crime he didn’t commit.

Webb has been out of prison for a little over 18 years now.

“They just told me, Mr. Webb, we’re sorry what happened to you, have a good life,” said Webb.

More than three decades later, DNA evidence links the crime to another man.

“Chill bumps came up on me. I just thought, my gosh,” said Irven Box, Thomas’ defense attorney. “After all this time, it’s caught up with this guy.”

News 9 followed Thomas’ journey for six years, up until his release from prison. His ex-wife, who he met through a prison ministry, fought to get his DNA tested. The test proved his innocence.

“It’s a classic case of how an eyewitness I.D. can cause someone to be falsely incarcerated,” said Box.

Five years after Thomas was released, the woman, who pointed him out in a line up contacted his ex-wife to apologize.

“She called my wife crying and said, I’m so sorry, he didn’t deserve this,” said Webb. “The detective pointed Thomas out to me and I just went with it, and it shocked us.”

Harris is charged with first-degree rape and forcible sodomy.

Mississippi authorities tell News 9 Harris has yet to be arrested. Harris denies any involvement in the 1982 rape of the University of Oklahoma student.