In 1997, James Earl Gates was arrested in Belzoni, Mississippi for capital murder, after Dr. Michael West claimed to have matched Gates’s teeth to a mark on the victim’s body. Ten months later, primitive DNA testing was conducted on material from under the victim’s fingernails, and Gates, excluded as the perpetrator by the testing, was released. Fifteen years passed and the case remained unsolved.
In 2012, MIP reached out to the Mississippi Crime Lab about the case, and, along with law enforcement in Belzoni, Mississippi, provided the Crime Lab with information it needed to be able to locate and re-test the old evidence. New testing on the victim’s fingernail scrapings yielded a DNA profile that was then uploaded to the FBI’s DNA database – the profile matched former Belzoni resident Michael Johnson, proving that he, and not Gates, was involved in the murder.