Phillip Bivens, along with two co-defendants, Bobby Ray Dixon and Larry Ruffin, was wrongfully convicted in Forrest County, Mississippi in 1980 of rape and murder. He confessed to the crime and then pled guilty to avoid the death penalty.
With the consent of the Forrest County district attorney, the Innocence Project of New Orleans (IPNO) and volunteer co-counsel, Rob McDuff, obtained DNA testing in 2010 on the evidence from the crime scene. The DNA profile from the semen left by the perpetrator was run through the FBI’s CODIS database. It did not match any of the three men convicted; it matched another, unrelated man who had been convicted of raping another woman in her home in the same county two years later.
In September 2010, almost exactly 30 years after their arrest, Forrest County Circuit Judge Bob Helfrich threw out the convictions of Mr. Bivens and Mr. Dixon (see below) before a packed courtroom in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.