Darryl Washington, Shakara Robertson and Marcus Lashun Smith were all declared innocent on Friday of a 1994 Dallas-area purse snatching. Washington was sentenced to 99-years in prison for the crime. Robertson and Smith took plea deals to avoid the lengthy sentence. Assisting in the men’s cases was the Innocence Project of Texas and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit, which also helped identify the real perpetrators.
The Los Angeles Times reported DA Craig Watkins’ frustration at the mounting numbers of black men’s convictions that have proven to be false in Dallas County and called for a nationwide discussion about race and justice.
“There’s something generally wrong with our system and we need to be honest about it,” Watkins said. “I would hope that going forward every DA’s office has a conviction integrity unit or whatever they want to call it, because we have a responsibility to make sure we have the right folks convicted.”
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