Dunagan Update

by TChris

Last October, TalkLeft spotlighted the incarceration of Gregory Dunagan for a murder he probably didn't commit. Dunagan's legal challenges to his conviction at that point had been unavailing.

Bob Ray Sanders at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that nothing has changed. Why?

You see, in Texas, once a defendant is found guilty by a jury, innocence really doesn't matter. Only the conviction counts.

Besides, who in any police department, district attorney's office or judge's chamber is ever willing to admit a mistake?

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    Re: Dunagan Update (none / 0) (#1)
    by aw on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 01:13:13 PM EST
    who in any police department, district attorney's office or judge's chamber is ever willing to admit a mistake?
    Someone with a functioning conscience? A good christian?

    Re: Dunagan Update (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dadler on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 01:25:19 PM EST
    a civilized human being with a functioning sense of decency?

    Re: Dunagan Update (none / 0) (#3)
    by jen on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 01:49:18 PM EST
    People who don't want to see the real murderer get off scott free?

    Re: Dunagan Update (none / 0) (#5)
    by jen on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 03:26:10 PM EST
    Hey, that murderer DID get away with it

    Re: Dunagan Update (none / 0) (#6)
    by Rick B on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 09:38:59 PM EST
    Bob Ray Sanders is a good reporter. Here is what he wrote:
    For 18 months, police could not find the killer. Then a jailhouse informant who had been charged in another killing told police that Dunagan had told him that he had committed the Grand Prairie crime. A detective at the time acknowledged that the informant cooperated with police to get a lesser sentence in his own case. Dunagan was charged with capital murder, but as I pointed out before, he was really convicted for four reasons: 1) his criminal record from an incident when he was 18, 2) a setup by a lying jailhouse informant, 3) sloppy police work, and 4) ineffective trial representation by his defense attorney. Three times during the trial, Ali's wife identified someone other than Dunagan as the killer. Observers believe that she picked out the only black man with green eyes she saw in the courtroom. All she saw of the killer was his eyes because he was wearing a bandanna over his face. Dunagan has black eyes. Dunagan's defense attorney, who is a former state district judge and Dallas prosecutor, called no witnesses, not even Dunagan's parole officer, who would have testified that he met with Dunagan on the morning of the crime. Instead, the defense's entire argument was that the prosecution, with no physical evidence, had not proved its case. Also, prosecutors never called the one person who said Dunagan had admitted the crime: the informant. A federal magistrate ruled that Dunagan should be granted a new trial, but his decision was overturned by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case. [Snip] there is new evidence. On the cover of this month's D magazine is a headline promoting a story inside: "FRAMED FOR MURDER: GREG DUNAGAN DIDN'T DO IT." An in-depth investigation by writer Paul Kix quotes two witnesses, both inmates in a state prison, who knew the informant, Dave Spencer. Both have signed affidavits implicating Spencer himself in the slaying of Ali and the framing of Dunagan. One of those witnesses said he overheard Spencer and another Dallas County Jail inmate planning to pin the crime on Dunagan. The witness said he was prepared to testify to that fact at Dunagan's trial, but he was never called. The other witness, a friend of Spencer's, said the informant told him one night that he had killed a convenience store operator in Grand Prairie. "Some Pakistani guy," D quotes Quenten Jordan as saying. "The store owner wouldn't get Spencer the money fast enough," Kix writes, adding this quote from Jordan: "Dave said, 'I had to kill him.'" The magazine notes that Spencer denies ever making that statement. But these witnesses appear to have nothing to gain for implicating Spencer. Dunagan's brother Kevin Boykins, who has spent more than $60,000 trying to clear his brother's name, points out that the same prosecutor who tried Dunagan also tried Spencer two months later. He notes that both of the witnesses who have signed affidavits vindicating Dunagan testified for the prosecution in convicting Spencer on another murder charge. "If their testimony was credible in that case, then their statements ought to be credible now," Boykins said.
    So what we have is a non-white defendent with a previous conviction who depended on a court-appointed defense attorney to conduct an adequate defense. Since Texas Judges are elected, this guy was politically active which is probably why he was appointed by the Judge as defense attorney. Why would a defense attorney not present a case? My bet in this case is that it was the easiest thing the court-appointed Defense Attorney could do. A real defense would have required work - and effectively unbilled hours. Was he depending on an appeal? The court appointed attorney in Texas doesn't handle the appeal. Not for pay. Looks to me like the lawyers here were greater criminals than the Defendent. [I'm not a lawyer, and looking at this case, I thank God. But I am age 63 and have lived all but five years of my life in Texas.]

    Re: Dunagan Update (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 08:21:23 AM EST