Exoneree Ted Bradford

At a Glance

  • Innocent Years Served: 10 Years
  • Sentence: 10 Years
  • Wrongful Conviction: First-Degree Rape, First-Degree Kidnapping
  • Jurisdiction: Yakima County
  • Released: 2006
  • Exonerated: February 2010
  • Cost of Wrongful Incarceration*: $389,320
  • Lost Wages**: $353,200

About Ted

In 1996, Ted was 22 years old, living in his hometown of Yakima with his wife and two very young children, a daughter aged 2 years, and a son aged 9 months. He had a solid job he loved at a local factory, where he was working at the time the sexual assault for which he was wrongly convicted occurred.

The Investigation

On a Friday morning in 1995, a young mother was caring for her 5-week-old infant when a disguised assailant broke in and sexually assaulted her in her home. The victim described her attacker as a very large man, similar in build to her brother-in-law, large enough to take up the entire doorway as he entered her home. She was bound by her attacker who blocked her vision with a lone ranger style mask, modified with electrical tape to cover the eyeholes. The mask was left behind at the crime scene.

Months passed following the attack without an arrest. Two neighbors said they had seen a white Toyota Tercel similar to Ted’s car near the scene of the crime; one said she had seen Ted driving the car around the neighborhood that day.

Ted was arrested in April 1996, six months after the attack, and interrogated for more than eight hours. During his interrogation, he repeatedly denied any knowledge of or involvement in the crime. The interrogators would not accept his denials and instead claimed that they had DNA from the crime scene, so he should just accept responsibility. An attorney sent by Ted’s wife was prohibited from entering the interrogation room by law enforcement, who told the attorney he would not be permitted in unless Ted specifically requested an attorney.

After nearly nine hours of interrogation, believing — based on statements by his interrogators — that there was evidence from the crime scene that could be tested to exonerate him, and hoping to end the interrogation, Ted gave a statement that he “probably” committed the crime. His statement was replete with numerous inconsistencies with the evidence, and he recanted shortly after he made the statement, but it was still used against him at trial.

The victim in the case never identified Ted as her attacker, and testimony was provided at trial proving that Ted was at work at the time the attack happened. However, based on his false statement at the end of the interrogation and the neighbor’s identification, Ted was charged, convicted, and sentenced to ten years in prison.

Post-Conviction and Exoneration

Ted contacted the Washington Innocence Project in 2001, at the urging of his brother Brian. In the years since Ted’s conviction in the mid-1990s, DNA technology had advanced significantly to the point that it could now be used to test the mask that had been held to the victim’s face during the attack. Unfortunately, the Yakima County Police Department was not able to produce the mask for testing, asserting that the evidence had been lost.

Ted served his entire sentence of 10 years and was required to register as a sex offender upon his release to community custody in 2006. Miraculously, the missing evidence was located, allowing the Washington Innocence Project to submit a request to the court for it to be tested.

The Washington State Patrol Crime Lab skillfully performed DNA testing on the sticky side of the black electrical tape that had been used to cover the eyeholes on the mask, revealing a single male profile of which Ted was excluded as a possible contributor. Ted’s was the first conviction in Washington State overturned on the strength of exonerating DNA test results.

Despite the exonerating DNA evidence and the fact that Ted had already served his entire sentence for the crime, Yakima County prosecutors chose to charge Ted with the same sexual assault once again, offering his initial false statement in 1996 as the evidence against him. The case went to trial for the second time in February 2010. After a very brief deliberation the jury acquitted Ted, exonerating him of all charges.

Exonerees Larry, James, Ted and Alan

*Based on the average annual per-person incarceration costs in Washington State as of May 2019. Does not include the financial cost of trial, appeals, community supervision, retrial, or related civil proceedings.
**Based on the average salary by age https://smartasset.com/retirement/the-average-salary-by-age; not including retirement or social security contributions.