Innocence Project client Thomas McGowan was freed in April, but today his case is fully closed. Dallas County prosecutors announced last night that the DNA profile that proved McGowan’s innocence also led to the identity of the real perpetrator, a man named Kenneth Wayne Woodson, who is already serving in Texas prison for another crime.
When told that his DNA profile matched evidence from the 1985 rape, Woodson confessed to committing the crime, prosecutors said. Like many wrongful convictions overturned by DNA testing, McGowan’s conviction not only sent an innocent man to prison but also allowed the perpetrator of a violent crime to evade arrest. Woodson was convicted of a separate rape in 1986 and sentenced to 30 years in prison. If he – and not McGowan – had been apprehended after the 1985 attack, the 1986 rape could have been prevented.
Woodson was paroled after 20 years, but was convicted of robbing a bank 14 months after his release. He was sent back to serve the remaining 10 years of his sentence. He will not be prosecuted for the 1985 rape, officials said, because the statute of limitations has expired.
The real perpetrator has been identified in 83 of the 218 DNA exoneration cases to date.
McGowan, who was officially exonerated last week by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, said this news brings full closure to his case.
McGowan said that with all of the publicity surrounding the new information in the case, he sympathizes with the victim. "I'll be praying for her," he said.
Regarding Woodson, McGowan said: "I feel sorry for the dude. I can't understand what was running through his mind. I'm amazed the dude got caught. I'm just glad the truth is out now."
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. (Associated Press, 06/17/08)