After 21 years, Clay Chabot may finally see justice
Clay Chabot was sentenced to life in prison based on the testimony of his brother-in-law, Gerald Pabst. Other than Pabst’s testimony at his 1986 trial, no other credible evidence connected Chabot to the robbery, rape and murder. New DNA test results secured by the Innocence Project now prove that Pabst lied on the stand to provide the most convincing testimony against Chabot. DNA shows not only that Pabst lied in order to convict Chabot – but that Pabst himself committed the crime. Pabst was arrested in late July in Ohio, where he was living, and has been charged with capital murder.
Pabst testified in 1986 that he was in the victim’s house with Chabot but that Chabot alone shot and killed the victim (after raping her) while Pabst was in another room. Chabot has maintained since his arrest that he was never at the victim’s house. Pabst’s car was seen near the crime scene on the night of the crime and he was later found with several pieces of the victim’s property. Both men were originally charged with the murder, but days after Pabst’s testimony and Chabot’s conviction, charges against Pabst were dropped. Defense attorneys at Chabot’s trial were never told of a deal between prosecutors and Pabst. If there indeed was a deal during Chabot’s trial, prosecutors broke the law by failing to inform the defense.
Left, Chabot’s father visits him in prison in 2001
Read news coverage of this case:
Dallas Morning News:
New trial in ’86 murder raises questions of a deal
Dallas County prosecutors are preparing a murder case against Pabst, and have said they are deciding whether to join the Innocence Project in asking a judge to vacate Chabot’s conviction. Innocence Project Staff Attorney Nina Morrison, who represents Chabot, has said that Chabot’s 1986 conviction should be thrown out because DNA now proves that Pabst, the star prosecution witness, lied on the stand and committed the crime himself.
“The new DNA testing shows Pabst was a perjurer who, at the very least, lied to the jury when he denied raping the victim and only got 30 days in jail after he testified against Clay,” Morrison told the Dallas Morning News this month. “No reasonable jury today would believe a word he says, and without him, there’s no case against Clay Chabot.”
DNA testing has led to the exoneration of 13 people in Dallas County, more than in any other county nationwide.
Read more about these 13 cases
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