Innocence Project client Ronnie Taylor walked out of a Houston courtroom on Tuesday, October 9, after prosecutors agreed that DNA testing had proven he didn’t commit the rape for which he had served 12 years in prison. After a Houston woman was raped in her home in 1993, she misidentified Taylor in a videotaped lineup and he was convicted by a jury in 1995. At his trial, an expert from the Houston Police crime lab said a sheet collected from the crime scene did not contain evidence from the crime. This was an error, and DNA testing this year proved that Taylor wasn’t the rapist. The profile from the crime scene also implicated another man, who is currently serving time in Texas prison for unrelated crimes.
This is not the first mistake uncovered at the HPD crime lab by DNA testing. Before Taylor,
were both exonerated by DNA evidence after faulty testing at the lab led to their convictions. Inconsistencies have been noted at the lab for nearly five years, and a major independent audit recently found that several hundred cases require immediate retesting.
In an October 7 op-ed in the Houston Chronicle, Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck joined with Texas State Senators John Whitmore and Rodney Ellis (the chairman of the Innocence Project Board of Directors) to outline a plan for testing to proceed in these cases before any injustice continues to stand.
“The HPD crime lab cases can be handled cost-effectively, quickly and reliably,” they wrote. “While this is an extremely large project, it is not an impossible one and too much is at stake not to do it right.”
Read more about the
independent auditor’s reports
on the Houston Police Department crime lab.
At Taylor’s hearing on Tuesday, District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal apologized to him for the injustice he suffered. Taylor will live with his mother and step-father in Huntsville, Texas, for the first month of his freedom, but then plans to move to Atlanta to join the woman he was engaged to at the time of his wrongful conviction.