Museum Staff Helps Exonerate David Veney

January 19, 2023, Hunt Valley, MD — Staff members of the System Source Computer 
Museum recently completed a project that helped exonerate David Veney, wrongly 
convicted of rape in 1997. In 2005, after Mr. Veney sought a new trial, the 
state found irregularities in the prosecution, released Mr. Veney from prison, 
and declined to re-prosecute. 

Maryland is one of 35 states that provides compensation for wrongly 
incarcerated people.  But quirks in the law kept the law from applying in Mr. 
Veney’s case.  In 2021, the Maryland law was amended, making Mr. Veney eligible 
for partial compensation for the nearly nine years he spent in prison. Still, 
Mr. Veney had not been exonerated..

In June 2022, the Computer Museum at System Source in Hunt Valley, MD, was 
contacted by Patrick Gilbert, Senior Assistant States Attorney and Chief of the 
Prosecution Integrity Unit, who asked “Can you  read data from a 5.25” Floppy 
Disk?” Bob Roswell, curator of the museum, quickly replied “Of course!”

It wasn’t quite that simple. In theory, the diskette contained the court 
stenographic records from the 1992 rape trial of Grant Jones.  The transcript 
was thought to contain evidence that would exonerate both Mr. Jones and Mr. 
Veney, but the printed transcripts from 1992 had been lost. Unfortunately, the 
diskette was neither IBM- nor Apple-compatible.  It had been written on a DEC 
PDP-11 minicomputer using the RSX-11 Operating System.  Although the museum has 
a PDP-11 in its collection, it had not yet been restored and could not be 
started.  Brendan Becker, who runs the BLOOP museum inside the Computer Museum, 
jumped on the problem. 

Brendan set up a “Greaseweazle,” a device that reads the magnetic flux 
transitions on the floppy disk without regard to operating systems, disk 
formats, or errors. The process returned a file containing long binary strings 
of ones and zeros. Brendan was able to decode the file structure and found that 
disk (despite some unreadable parts) contained the raw keystrokes that the 
court stenographer had recorded in the 1992 rape case using a Stenograph 
machine from the era.  An operator of a Stenograph machine uses chords to 
rapidly encode conversation by creating keystrokes to represent words, 
syllables, and phrases.  While there is some standardization, each stenographer 
has his/her own “theory,” which results in individual styles for different 

Luckily, Patrick Gilbert was able to obtain the services of the stenographer 
from the original trial (now retired).  Together, they were able to 
substantially reconstruct the transcript from the 1992 trial, using the data 
provided by Brendan. The recovered transcript showed weird similarities to Mr. 
Veney’s case.

On March 4, 1992, Alice  Arroyo claimed to have been raped while walking home 
from volunteering at homeless shelter.  In her account, the assailant grabbed 
her shirt, ripped it open, and scratched her chest with his nails in a long, 
vertical raking motion.  Ms. Arroyo provided police with a detailed description 
of her assailant including the jacket he was wearing.  The following day Grant 
Jones walked into the Salisbury Police Department (in Wicomico County, MD) to 
report that his wallet had gone missing from the homeless shelter.  Mr. Jones 
matched the description of the assailant, was arrested, and was convicted of 
assault with intent to rape.

On September 24, 1996, Salisbury Police responded to a complaint at the home of 
Alice Arroyo, who stated that she had been raped.  Again, she provided a 
detailed description of the assailant and described suffering scratches on her 
chest in a long vertical raking motion.  On October 3, 1996, David Veney, a 
former neighbor, was charged with rape.  He was 20 years old at the time.

Mr. Veney’s first trial in April 1997 ended in a mistrial. The hung jury 
consisted of four jurors voting to convict and eight declaring him innocent.

In September 1997, Mr Veney was retried and found guilty of various charges, 
including burglary, assault, battery, and rape.  He was sentenced to 25 years 
for rape and concurrent sentences for the other offenses.

In 2005, Mr. Veney sought a new trial on the basis of ineffective 
representation. (That lawyer was later disbarred.)  When the State reviewed the 
case, substantial doubts about Mr. Veney’s guilt arose, including the eerie 
similarity in Ms. Arroyo’s testimony in the two cases.  Mr. Veney was released 
from prison, and the State declined to re-prosecute.    

The reconstructed transcript of Mr. Jones’ 1992 trial proved vital in 
establishing Mr. Veney’s innocence. On January 13, 2023, Judge Teresa  Garland 
awarded Mr Veney approximately $730,000, along with medical, housing, and 
educational benefits.

The staff of the Computer Museum at System Source is proud to have played a 
small part in Mr. Veney’s exoneration. Bob Roswell, Curator, later learned that 
the state had contacted numerous other technology firms, who were unable to 
render assistance, before asking the Museum for assistance.

The Amendment to Maryland Law Regarding Compensation for Wrongful Convictions:


Stenography Theories:

The System Source Computer Museum:

Bob Roswell

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