News 07.03.08

Dallas man freed after DNA proves his innocence

Patrick Waller is a free man today after spending more than 15 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit. Recent DNA tests proved Waller’s innocence and led investigators to two other men, who have both now admitted to their roles in the crime. Waller, who is represented by Dallas attorney Gary Udashen, is the 19th person cleared by DNA testing in Dallas County. The Innocence Project of Texas has consulted on his case.

“I’m free.”

Patrick Waller, 38, said those two words when he called his North Carolina relatives after being released from prison this morning. He had spent more than 15 years in prison for crimes he did not commit.

Read the full Dallas Morning News article

here

.


An editorial in the Dallas Morning News

this week said that wrongful convictions deny justice twice – once for the innocent person sent to prison, and another time as society fails to find the real perpetrator.

And a

column yesterday by James Ragland

pointed to the role of evidence preservation in all of the Dallas DNA exonerations.


A national Reuters article today

looks at evidence preservation in Texas and nationwide.

Some 218 people have been exonerated in the United States using DNA since the technique was first used to overturn convictions in 1989.

But for many others, the evidence has either been lost or simply was not preserved, the Innocence Project says. Only 25 of America's 50 states and Washington have legislation compelling authorities to preserve evidence of old cases. Even where such laws exist, they are often inadequate, while storage procedures and facilities are poor.

"In New York City we have around 20 cases we are working on where the evidence simply cannot be located. It's unavailable to us for testing and we don't know if it is lost or if it has been destroyed," said Rebecca Brown, a policy analyst at the Innocence Project.

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