DNA Tests Free Yet Another Innocent

How do prosecutors and arresting officers sleep at night?

After nearly 27 years in prison for a rape he did not commit, Charles Chatman walked free on Thursday, the 15th wrongfully convicted prisoner in Dallas County to be exonerated by DNA testing since 2001.

The innocence claims of seven other Dallas-area prisoners are pending, thanks in large part to a crime laboratory that, unlike others in Texas, has preserved evidence going back as long as three decades.

Dressed in a new blue blazer, gray slacks, blue shirt and red tie bought by his lawyers, Mr. Chatman said he harbored no feelings of animosity toward the neighbor who had misidentified him as her rapist, earning him a 99-year sentence. But he said he felt he was victimized because he was black.

“I want to let the world know what happened,” he said, “I won’t shy away from that.”

Mr. Chatman, who had been locked up since age 20, said he had lost three chances for release by insisting to the Parole Board, “I never committed the crime.”

He said he wanted to work alongside his lawyers, Jeff Blackburn, Natalie Roetzel and Michelle Moore, to help others he had met in prison prove their innocence. The lawyers work with the Innocence Project of Texas, a consortium of university law clinics that has been using DNA evidence to exonerate people who were wrongly convicted.

[From 15th Dallas County Inmate Since ’01 Is Freed by DNA - New York Times]

Shouldn't DNA tests be mandated as routine procedure?

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on January 4, 2008 11:11 AM.

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