An interview with George DeJesus
Q. What is your name?
A. My name is George DeJesus.
Q. Why are you in prison?
A. I have been convicted of first degree murder conviction for the death of Margaret Midkiff.
Q. When will you be released?
A. I have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Q. How long have you been incarcerated?
A. I have been in prison for around seventeen (17) years.
Q. How old were you when you were arrested?
A. I was arrested when I was 17.
Q. Did you commit this crime, or were you involved in any way?
A. No, I did not commit this crime, nor did I have any involvement. In fact, I was clueless as to who committed this crime until the DNA test revealed Brandon Gohagen had been involved. I was totally surprised, hurt and disgusted.
Q. Why were you convicted of this crime, and was there any evidence against you or your brother?
A. There is absolutely no physical evidence connecting us to this crime. In fact, there was DNA testing done in this case, which excluded us. We were accused of committing this crime by a man named Brandon Gohagen. Gohagen's DNA was a match to the semen left at the crime scene. Gohagen made a deal with the prosecution to testify against my brother and myself. In exchange, he doesn't have to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Q. Why would Gohagen lie about this crime?
A. I cannot begin to understand the mind of a sick individual. What I do know is that once confronted with the evidence against him, he quickly shifted blame. One can only assume it was to save himself the best way he could.
Q. Where is Gohagen now?
A. He is currently serving a 35-year sentence, which means that he has an out date and has a chance to be free.
Q. Do you have an alibi for the night in question?
A. Yes, both Christina Ortega and Jamie Martin testified at trial that I was with them at a house, where they were babysitting the night Margaret was murdered.
Q. Have you appealed your conviction?
A. Yes. I have been through every step in the appeal process without success.
Q. Are you currently being represented by an attorney?
A. No, I am not represented by an attorney at this time.
Q. Can you prove that you are innocent?
A. Yes, I can. Since my wrongful conviction, I have been researching my case and looking for anything that I can find to prove my innocence. I sought the help of the world renown forensic specialist, Dr. Werner Spitz. He issued an affidavit disputing the State's theory of the case, which also proves that Gohagen's story is inaccurate. Also a few years ago, I found a new style of DNA testing called Touch DNA. I believe that using Touch DNA in my case would finally show that Gohagen not only committed this heinous crime, but he is the sole perpetrator of this crime.
Q. What is Touch DNA?
A. Touch DNA was created by Richard & Selma Eikelenboom, who worked at the independent forensic services, (a private laboratory in the Netherlands that specializes in recovery of trace evidence). There they discovered methods for isolating skin epithelial cells of a perpetrator from a crime victim's clothes. You can find more information on Touch DNA on my website.
Q. If there were already DNA testing performed in this case, why would more testing help?
A. DNA testing has advanced so much since 1995. The methods that are available now, simply were not available at the time DNA testing was performed in this case. This crime was very gruesome, there was substantial amounts of evidence collected at the crime scene. Using the new methods of DNA testing on the materials that were collected at the crime scene would show the actual person, who had direct contact with these materials. That person could only be Margaret's killer. I am certain that these tests will ultimately prove my innocence.
Q. Have you contacted any Innocence Projects?
A. Yes, I have written to several different Innocent Projects across the country, even a couple in Canada. The truth is that it is very hard to get an Innocent Project to consider your case. They get so many request for help, it's impossible to take every case. My case is currently under review with the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic, but like the rest, their case load is full as well. My case has already been with them for over three years now. There is not telling how much longer I will have to wait for them to finally decide if they will take the case.
Q. How has this affected your relationships with friends and family?
A. It has been real hard on both ends. My family has spent their life-savings trying to prove our innocence without success. When it comes to visiting, they used to come visit once a week. But, as they've gotten older, they can not travel like they once could, so visits are few and far between. Friends are pretty much nonexistent.
Q. What have you accomplished while in prison?
A. After entering prison, I went back to school and received my GED. I also received a certificate in Business Education Technology. I have maintained a regular job the entire time I have been in prison. I am currently certified by the Library of Congress to transcribe books from print to Braille. I am working at M.B.T.F., a non-profit organization that transcribes books for the blind. I have been working with them for about two years.
Q. What are your plans once released from prison?
A. When I am released, I plan to continue working with the Braille program. I have learned a lot and I love what I do. I also want to further my education in different areas. But what I am looking forward to the most is to be reunited with my family.