News 08.28.07

After 21 years, Clay Chabot may finally see justice

Clay Chabot at the 2018 Innocence Network Conference in Memphis, TN. Photo by Lacy Atkins.

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.


Chabot with his father


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

(8/19/07)


Ft. Worth Star-Telegram: DNA points to witness in 1986 trial

(08/01/07)

 


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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  1. Robin VanKeulen says:

    What a disgusting miscarriage of justice. Clay is absolutely correct that once the police “decide” they have the answer that’s it. The prosecutor follows. That is NOT how it should work in this country with all of the technology available to us. Shame on the “good” guys. Clay Chabot is an example of how and why people DO plead guilty to crimes they did not commit. Clay and family stay strong, I believe there is a reason for everything that happens. One day you will have the justice you so very richly deserve. God bless!!!

  2. James Flareau says:

    This is compelling news.
    And I’m on the side of justice not injustice.
    As these heart breaking stories are a tragedy of the fair scales of justice.
    I use the term fair lightly as I myself fell victim of a plea that destroyed my name and life as I knew it.
    If I may open another overlooked flaw in the judicial system.
    The innocent people who have plead guilty to a crime resulting in a Felony conviction and getting a light sentence for a plea deal ; or risk a 30 year sentence or in some cases life behind bars for the fear of corruption of a few good old boy layers to feather there hats receiving favors in return for convictions.
    I myself am one of these innocent victims of the uneven scales of justice. Let my short synopsis explain.
    I being green about the law and its working completely trusted my layer as they were painting me a grim view of my future and ignoring all the evidence that I dillantly brought to thier attention showing my innocence.
    However in the end after all the compelling efforts made to prove myself not guilty.,was told it would be in my best intrest to pay restitution and plea guilty and receive a light sentence with 2 years community control and 7 years probation in lue of risking a trial conviction. After taking a plea deal that went against my better judgment I watched in dismay.
    My life was dismantled and all my professional licence worthless.
    Leaving me in a whirlwind of depression and anxiety. Not to mention poverty. I cannot vote in Florida and with a felony conviction cant find work as I new it, not to mention the fact that my reputation was also worthless now.
    So it would be grand to see a movement such as your cause to set aside time for victims of my own.
    Good upstanding people who have good moral and give hope that they again may be a productive part of society once more.
    Thankfully yours
    James Flareau

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