Mississippi Innocence Project

Phillip Bivens

Phillip-BivensPhillip 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.

  • Exoneration Cedric Willis
    Conviction: Capital Murder, Armed Robbery
    Years Served: 12
  • MIP Established Mississippi Innocence Project Established at University of Mississippi School of Law
  • Exoneration Levon Brooks
    Charge: Capital Murder
    Years Served: 18
  • Exoneration Kennedy Brewer
    Charge: Capital Murder
    Years Served: 13
  • Legislation Mississippi DNA Task Force Formed
  • Exoneration Arthur Johnson
    Charge: Rape
    Years Served: 16
  • Exoneration Calvin Wilks
    Charge: Murder
    Years Served: 3.5
  • Legislation DNA Preservation and Post-Conviction Testing Signed into Law
  • Legislation Compensation Statute Provides Funds to Wrongfully Convicted
  • Exoneration Kevin Norwood
    Charge: Armed Carjacking
    Years Served: 15
  • Exoneration Philip Bivens
    Charge: Capital Murder
    Years Served: 30
  • Legislation Requiring Board Licensing for pathologists performing State Funded Aubottomsies
  • Exoneration Larry Ruffin (Posthumously)
    Charge: Capital Murder
    Years Served: 30
  • Exoneration Bobby Ray Dixon
    Charge: Capital Murder
    Years Served: 30
  • Legislation Establishing non-partisan, diverse panel tasked with appointing state medical examiner and creating advisory panel to aid medical examiner office issues
  • Legislation Eye-witness ID training
  • Legislation Helped to defeat HB 788
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