A Texas man convicted of raping a teenager in 1988 will be freed after a DNA test excluded him from the possibility of committing the crime. The freed man had filed for DNA testing with the help of the Innocence Project in 2007, but that test was inconclusive. The results from a different type of test conducted in 2010 eventually lead to the man's clearance and release from prison.
The man had been convicted of sexual assault of a child after the 14-year-old victim picked him out of two lineups. Because the victim saw her attacker several times during the assault, the identification was seen as sufficient evidence for a conviction even though the only fingerprints found at the crime scene did not match his own. He was sentenced to life in prison. However, a DNA test on evidence found at the scene revealed that the man was not the attacker.
Although the 45-year-old man's conviction will not immediately be dropped, he will be freed with bail soon. An attorney with the Innocence Project said she plans to file for formal clearance of the conviction.
Texas does compensate wrongfully convicted citizens, and the man in this case could receive for $80,000 each year spent in prison once his conviction has been reversed.
The case has drawn attention to the prevalence of incorrect witness identifications. Dallas County alone has seen the convictions of over 30 people overturned since 2001. "It's eye-opening," explained a prosecutor. "[E]ven though you have a judgment, you want to be open to the fact that there might be a problem with it."
Source: KSAT.com, "Prosecutors: DNA tests clear man of sex assault," August 21, 2012