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    1. #1
      Jahness's Avatar
      Jahness is offline OniOni Warrior

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      Arrow Texas man freed by DNA after 15 years in prison


      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      Delay of DNA tests helped man linked
      to robbery, rape go free



      By JENNIFER EMILY and STEVE McGONIGLE
      The Dallas Morning News
      jemily@dallasnews.com
      smcgonigle@dallasnews.com




      Dallas County Sheriff's Dept.
      Patrick Leondos Waller

      DNA testing could have freed Patrick Leondos Waller seven years ago from a life sentence for armed robbery and kept the real criminal in prison.

      But because former Dallas County District Attorney Bill Hill objected, Mr. Waller's efforts to obtain genetic testing were delayed until last fall. That was long enough for the man science has now identified as the perpetrator to elude justice for the crime that also included a rape and kidnapping.

      DNA tests have now cleared Mr. Waller. The district attorney's office said two men who recently confessed to the 1992 crime cannot be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has expired. One of the men, whom DNA evidence definitively links to the crime, was paroled in February after serving 15 years for burglary.

      Had Mr. Hill granted testing earlier, the man's parole may have been denied and he could have served the remainder of his 45-year sentence, a top prosecutor and Mr. Waller's attorney said Thursday.

      "We've done all we can," said Mike Ware, who oversees the district attorney's conviction integrity unit. "If the test had been done earlier, we could have confirmed it and notified the parole board."
      Also Online

      Wrongful Dallas County convictions cleared by DNA testing since 2001

      Mr. Hill could not be reached for comment Thursday. John Rolater, who once oversaw DNA test requests for the district attorney's office and is now in the Collin County district attorney's office, could also not be reached.

      Mr. Waller remains in prison and his attorney, Gary Udashen, said Thursday that he had not spoken with him yet. A judge could release Mr. Waller at a hearing scheduled for next week.

      Mr. Waller was 22 and on probation for cocaine possession when he was arrested in March 1992 after a married couple in their 20s was abducted at gunpoint by two men in the West End.

      The abductors took the couple to an ATM and then to an abandoned building in Oak Cliff that the two men who confessed to the crime call "the castle." The woman was sexually assaulted there by both men, but DNA was only found for one.

      Another couple then drove up to the house, and one of the men forced that couple inside at gunpoint. The couple was lost and got out of the car to take photos of the building because it was interesting.

      The men left separately in cars belonging to the couples after a security guard drove by and scared them off. The victims then untied each other.

      Mr. Waller was arrested after a Dallas police officer selected him from a photo lineup as one of two men who fled from police in the West End days after the robbery.

      At trial, prosecutors presented the identification of Mr. Waller by three of the victims and the police officer. They also introduced testimony from a forensic analyst who said Mr. Waller's blood type was consistent with that of the rapist. No DNA testing was performed at that time.

      A Dallas County jury convicted Mr. Waller of aggravated robbery in December 1992 and sentenced him to life in prison. Mr. Waller then pleaded guilty to two aggravated kidnapping charges in exchange for dual, 30-year prison terms.

      He was one of the first Dallas County inmates to apply after a state law allowing post-conviction testing was enacted in 2001. He applied for a second DNA test in 2005.

      Mr. Udashen said prosecutors under Mr. Hill opposed both requests for testing. One prosecutor testified at a hearing that she would prosecute him again even if the DNA testing cleared him. Two trial judges and two state appeals courts agreed that testing should be denied.

      Craig Watkins, who succeeded Mr. Hill as district attorney in January 2007, granted the DNA test to Mr. Waller. The results came back six months ago, but the tests did not fully exonerate him then because the victim was sexually assaulted by two men.

      Early this year, DNA from the case matched DNA of a 38-year-old Dallas man serving time for burglary that occurred months after the abduction, Mr. Ware said. DNA connected Byron Demond Bell, the man who was serving a 45-year-sentence for burglary of a residence that occurred months after the abduction, Mr. Ware said. In April, DNA taken from Mr. Bell, now 38, to double-check the hit was once again a match.

      Mr. Udashen said Mr. Hill's office paved the way for Mr. Bell to go free.

      "Had they done a DNA test back in 2001 or 2005, they would have matched it up to Bell, and Bell would have never been paroled," Mr. Udashen said.

      In May, the man linked to the crime by DNA confessed to Mr. Ware at the office of his parole officer that he committed the crimes and named the other man involved, Mr. Ware said.

      Mr. Ware later interviewed that person, Lemondo Simmons, a 35-year-old Dallas man who went to prison in 2002 for assault on a public servant and was released in 2004. He admitted to his role in the crime as well, Mr. Ware said.

      Both men were subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury where they admitted to the offenses, Mr. Ware said. One testified in May, and the other told his story to grand jurors on Wednesday.

      Neither man could be reached for comment Thursday.

      Mr. Waller is the 18th man exonerated by DNA in Dallas County. The county has more DNA exonerations than any other in the country since 2001 when the state legislature allowed post-conviction DNA testing.

      Mr. Watkins, who took office in January 2007, formed a conviction integrity unit that is reviewing DNA tests previously denied under Mr. Hill.

      Mr. Waller is at least the fourth man cleared by DNA after Mr. Hill denied them testing.

      Delay of DNA tests helped man linked to robbery, rape go free | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News


      2008, The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
      Posted In The Spirit of Learning & Sharing
      One Love & Respect Always

      ***************************************
      The Quest for knowledge stops at the grave.
      HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I.


      If you fail to prepare,
      you are preparing to fail!


      Mind what you want, because someone wants your mind.

      Working together, the ants ate the elephant.


    2. #2
      Jahness's Avatar
      Jahness is offline OniOni Warrior

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      Arrow Texas man freed by DNA after 15 years in prison


      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      Texas man freed by DNA after 15 years in prison



      By JEFF CARLTON,
      Associated Press Writer





      The Innocence Project board of director member John Stickels, right, look on as DNA exonoree Patrick Waller, reacts to the announcement in court that his conviction of a crime that sent him to jail for more than 15 years was being overturned in Criminal Court District 2 at the Frank Crowley Courts Building, Thursday, July 3, 2008, in Dallas. Waller is the 19th man in Dallas County since 2001 shown by DNA evidence to be innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. The Innocence Project in New York says that's a national high.
      (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)


      A Texas man who spent more than 15 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of kidnapping and robbery raised both arms skyward and collapsed in his mother's embrace Thursday after being told he was a free man.

      Patrick Waller's sobs were the only sound at a crowded hearing attended by four other inmates also exonerated by DNA testing.

      "It's all right, honey," Patricia Cunningham told her son. "It's over. You're out of here. You're going home."

      Waller had been behind bars since 1992 for aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping stemming from the abduction of a Dallas couple. He was proved innocent by DNA testing late last year.

      "I feel vindicated," said Waller, 38. "I feel thankful. Most of all, I feel blessed."

      His release had been all but certain since last week, when the Dallas County prosecutor's office announced that DNA evidence had cleared Waller and matched the profile of another man.

      That suspect identified his accomplice, and both men subsequently confessed in front of a grand jury, prosecutors said. Neither man is in prison, although one is on parole, and they won't face criminal charges because the statute of limitations has expired.

      Waller is the 19th man in Dallas County since 2001 shown by DNA evidence to be innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. That's more than any county in the nation, according to The Innocence Project in New York, a legal center specializing in wrongful-conviction cases.

      Four former inmates who collectively served nearly 100 years in prison before being exonerated lined the back wall of the crowded courtroom. The men freed by DNA testing in Dallas County have made a habit of showing up in court for exoneration hearings, and on Thursday they presented Waller with a prepaid cell phone as a gift.

      Their exoneration stories helped Waller during his incarceration.

      "All these guys I just met, I have all their clippings," Waller said. "It always gave me hope that one day it would be my turn."

      Waller said he plans to ask the other exonorees about the challenges of rejoining society. He is also about 20 credit hours short of a degree.

      John Stickels, an Innocence Project of Texas board member and a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, said he wants to help Waller enroll at the suburban Dallas school.

      Waller's ordeal began in 1992 when two men kidnapped a couple and stole several hundred dollars. The men also sexually assaulted the woman after tying up the man, District Attorney Mike Ware said.

      Another couple who drove up to the scene were also held at gunpoint. A security guard arrived and scared off the men, who fled in separate cars.

      Three of the four people abducted picked Waller in a photo lineup. The fourth later picked him out of a live lineup, Ware said.

      Waller maintained his innocence and presented an alibi at trial but was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He also pleaded guilty to two charges of aggravated kidnapping, fearing more life sentences if he were convicted, said his lawyer, Gary Udashen.

      In 2001, Waller requested post-conviction DNA testing under a new state law. The DA's office, then under different leadership, opposed the request, and it was denied by a judge. A second attempt in 2005 was also unsuccessful.

      Bill Hill, who was the district attorney when Waller requested his DNA tests, did not return a message from The Associated Press.

      Waller's 2007 request, which came after Craig Watkins had taken office as the new district attorney, was granted. Watkins has started a program in which law students, supervised by the Innocence Project of Texas, review old cases in which inmates have requested DNA testing.

      In Waller's case, DNA testing was paid for by the Innocence Project of Texas.

      Texas man freed by DNA after 15 years in prison - Yahoo! News

      Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.
      Posted In The Spirit of Learning & Sharing
      One Love & Respect Always

      ***************************************
      The Quest for knowledge stops at the grave.
      HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I.


      If you fail to prepare,
      you are preparing to fail!


      Mind what you want, because someone wants your mind.

      Working together, the ants ate the elephant.


    3. #3
      nattyreb's Avatar
      nattyreb is offline Moderator

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      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      i love the Innocence Project. If anyone ever needs to show someone how easily someone's entire life can be stolen from them, just have them YouTube the Innocence Project, they've got several videos up there of Bros. cleared after decades in prison because of their good work. And these are just the ones who can be cleared through DNA, so many more innocents don't have DNA involvement!

      Down with this rotten-ass system!!
      "We must continue to move forward and do everything we can to outlaw legal lynching in America. We must continue to stand together in unity and to demand a moratorium on all executions. You must stay strong. You must continue to hold your heads up, and to be there. We will prevail. Keep marching Black people. They are killing me tonight. They are murdering me tonight." -- Excerpts of Last Words of Bro. Shaka Sankofa, an innocent man executed by the state of Texas, 6/22/00. www.myspace.com/nattyreb7

    4. #4
      Jahness's Avatar
      Jahness is offline OniOni Warrior

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      Arrow


      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      Quote Originally Posted by nattyreb View Post
      i love the Innocence Project. If anyone ever needs to show someone how easily someone's entire life can be stolen from them, just have them YouTube the Innocence Project, they've got several videos up there of Bros. cleared after decades in prison because of their good work. And these are just the ones who can be cleared through DNA, so many more innocents don't have DNA involvement!

      Down with this rotten-ass system!!

      Greetings Queen natty!

      The Innocence Project has done a lot of great work helping so many people get justice. I agree with you on this point that there is still so many more innocent people that need to be released, but we will never know if DNA will be an option or the powers that be will ever do the right thing.

      So many families don't even have the resources to get through a regular trial much less all the others resources that need to be consistently applied so that our folks ca even be lucky enough to get a chance to help those who simply cannot help themselves or whose families cannot even afford to help even if they wanted too.

      Things have to change within the legal system our people need to get out of the hands of the oppressors.

      I am so happy that another brother has been set free. May his path be continually blessed.

      Thanks fro taking the time to share.

      Peace & Blessings to you as well.
      Posted In The Spirit of Learning & Sharing
      One Love & Respect Always

      ***************************************
      The Quest for knowledge stops at the grave.
      HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I.


      If you fail to prepare,
      you are preparing to fail!


      Mind what you want, because someone wants your mind.

      Working together, the ants ate the elephant.


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