Pennsylvania Woman Wrongfully Arrested in Case of Mistaken Identity

A Pennsylvania woman said she was assaulted in jail after being wrongly imprisoned.

Desiree Pinkston, 35, was accused of stabbing two women along East Hills Drive in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was charged with a litany of offenses, including conspiracy to commit criminal homicide and aggravated assault, KDKA reported.

While at the Allegheny County Jail for 24 hours, Pinkston said she was assaulted after another woman heard she had been charged with the stabbing in East Hills. However, Pinkston maintained that she was not responsible for the attack.

The single mother of three told the news station that she was forced to seek medical treatment at the UPMC St. Margaret for her injuries after her release from jail.

“Then I got some injuries on my left elbow, and I went through all of this over some charges that the Pittsburgh police said that I did something,” Pinkston said. “No one else said that I did anything.”

Pinkston explained that she was at a doctor’s appointment with her daughter in Westmoreland County during the stabbing. The 35-year-old said she is not responsible for the stabbing and does not know anyone involved.

Two women were stabbed on September 19 in the 2300 block of East Hills around 2 p.m. Both victims were transported to a local hospital in stable condition, with one victim suffering multiple lacerations to her face.

Pinkston suggested that she may have been wrongly charged for the stabbing because of her last name. She also stated her belief that police accused her due to her criminal record, which dates back to when she was 18 years old.

Police said in a criminal affidavit that witnesses reported two sisters were the perpetrators. Authorities charged Shaylon Pinkston with the stabbing, but Desiree told KDKA the two are not related.

The charges against Pinkston were later dropped. The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office told KDKA it was a case of mistaken identity. The district attorney’s office did not respond to The North Star’s request for additional comment.

Not only was Pinkston wrongly jailed and assaulted, but she claims she was forced to pay $1,000 of a $20,000 bond to regain her freedom. “I had to call off work last night because of the injuries I suffered in the Allegheny County Jail,” she said. “Who pays for my suffering that I just went through?”

Pinkston also told KDKA that her daughter was traumatized after witnessing her mother’s arrest.

There have been a number of recent cases in which wrongfully convicted people were exonerated and recompensed for the years spent behind bars.

Earlier in September, a New York man wrongfully convicted of murder was exonerated of all charges when prosecutors dropped an 18-year-old drug charge. Sundhe Moses, 43, was convicted of murdering a 4-year-old girl during a drive-by shooting in Brooklyn in August 1995 when he was just 19.

Moses was assaulted by New York police detective Louis Scarcella until he confessed to the killing. He was later sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. In 2018, Moses was exonerated of the murder last year, but still faced a felony charge of attempting to promote prison contraband for a 2002 incident involving a marijuana cigarette.

Meanwhile, in August, another New Yorker reached a nearly $10 million settlement with New York City after spending almost 30 years in prison for a rape and robbery he did not commit. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer agreed to pay Mark Denny a $9.75 million settlement in order to avoid a potential $50 million lawsuit against the city and the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

Denny was only 17-year-old when he and three other men were accused of robbing a Brooklyn Burger King in December 1987. The teenager was also accused of raping an 18-year-old woman working at the fast food restaurant during the robbery.

In February 1989, Denny was convicted on rape, sodomy, robbery, and coercion charges. He was sentenced to 57 years in prison and was denied parole opportunities a number of times because he refused to “admit” guilt for the crimes he did not commit.

Denny was exonerated for the crimes in December 2017.


About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.