Cast & Crew
On a hot July night in 1984, an intruder broke into Jennifer Thompson's apartment, held a knife to her throat and brutally raped her. Thompson stayed calm during the attack and tried to memorize the rapist's face. Two days later, she identified Ronald Cotton, a black man with a former conviction of attempted rape. Based on the strength of Jennifer's testimony and circumstantial evidence, Cotton was sentenced to life in prison. From the beginning Cotton strongly maintained his innocence, claiming that a fellow inmate boasted that Cotton was serving time for a rape he had committed. In 1987, Cotton was granted a second trial. This time Jennifer Thompson's testimony against him, coupled with that of a second victim who had previosuly not identified Cotton, effectively sealed his fate. Cotton was given an additional life sentence. Cotton refused to give up hope. Finally, a law school professor from the University of North Carolina Law School suggested he try the recently developed DNA tests. The tests proved conclusively that Cotton could not have committed the two rapes and that the fellow inmate was the perpetrator. On June 30th, 1995, after serving 11 years, Ronald Cotton was exonerated.