Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Texas Wrongful Convictions Exposed by DNA
April 2008
The Justice Project
1725 Vermont Avenue NW, Third Floor,
Washington, DC 20005510
South Congress Avenue,
Austin, Texas 78704

Since 1994 thirty-three Texans have been exonerated by DNA after serving years inprison for someone else’s crimes. Many others have been cleared without the benefit ofDNA, though their climb to justice was always steeper.

Victor Larue Thomas
Judge Knize answered Victor Thomas’s desperate plea from prison and ordered DNA tests that disproved the eyewitness.

In 1985 a woman was working at a convenience store in the small Texas town ofWaxahachie when she was raped during an armed robbery. At the time police suspecteda construction worker named Victor Larue Thomas regarding another sexual offense inthe area but did not pursue that case. They questioned Thomas about the conveniencestore attack, and in October 1985 the convenience store victim identified Thomas as herattacker. He was charged with robbery, kidnapping, and rape. In June 1986, a juryconvicted Thomas of all charges based solely on the victim’s in court identification.Thomas was given three life sentences.

Thomas protested his innocence from the moment of his arrest and wrote hundreds ofletters seeking assistance. State District Judge Gene Knize read one of those letters inJanuary of 2001 and appointed a lawyer to pursue DNA testing. The evidence from histrial, which had been stored at the Southwest Institute of Forensic Science in Dallas, wastested and established that Thomas was innocent. On June 27, 2001, state District JudgeAl Scoggins released Thomas, saying he should never have been prosecuted. The EllisCounty District Attorney’s Office echoed similar sentiments and joined in Thomas’srequest for a pardon, which was granted in 2002.