A57-year-old Texas man who was exonerated in late 2009 for a murder he did not commit is once again back in jail. This time around, he is facing a drug possession charge.
The man was convicted in 1997 for a murder that occurred during a home invasion of a Texas drug house. The man served 12 years in jail before being exonerated. Experts say the man’s exoneration was atypical because it did not involve DNA evidence.
The man was freed after student innocence clinics at the University of Texas (Arlington and Austin branches) brought the case to the attention of the Dallas County’s Conviction Integrity Unit, which looked into the case.
The investigation ultimately determined that the man had been convicted primarily on a witness’s faulty identification. Based on that finding, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals officially cleared the man. Two other men were later identified as suspects for the murder.
Today’s posting illustrates that a criminal defendant — even if later exonerated — may have a difficult time acclimating to society upon release. In today’s economy, older job applicants have reported difficulty in their search for work. Given the man’s age of 57 years, he may have encountered similar obstacles — which were no doubt compounded by the added pressure of trying to rejoin a community after wrongly serving 12 years in jail.
Some critics believe that a strong support network is essential for a released criminal defendant to rejoin a community. In this case, it’s unclear whether the man family members, friends or other ties to the community to reconnect.
Unfortunately, drug charges are often aggressively prosecuted in Texas, and carry potentially severe sentences for repeat offenders or those with a criminal background. With the help of an experienced criminal law attorney, the man may be able to argue that mitigating factors, such as his age and his tragic wrongful imprisonment, call for a sentence with minimal or no jail time.
Source: myfoxdfw.com, “Exonerated Dallas man arrested again,” Alice Wolke, Nov. 14, 2012
Our firm handles situations similar to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Houston Drug Charges Lawyer page.