DNA Frees Another TX Man - This One After 23 Years

Ernest Sonnier served 23 years of a life sentence for rape. Yesterday, he was released from prison after DNA testing and his lawyers from the Innocence Project established his innocence.

Over the last 18 months, genetic testing of evidence found on the victim’s clothing and at the scene of the attack had yielded no trace of Mr. Sonnier, the Harris County district attorney’s office said. Instead, it has implicated two other men. Both are felons and known associates. One is awaiting trial for a different rape.

Prosecutors are not conceding Sonnier's innocence, "though prosecutors acknowledge that the new DNA tests cast strong doubt on the conviction." Now they want to do more investigation. Why didn't they do it when the claims of innocence were first raised?

Texas leads the nation in exonerations of the wrongfully convicted: [More...]

Texas leads the nation in cases in which convicted men have been exonerated through DNA tests. Thirty-eight of the nation’s 241 people cleared since 1989 were convicted here, according to the Innocence Project, a charity dedicated to such cases.

What caused Sonnier's conviction? Faulty eye-witness evidence (the victim id'd him in a lineup) and sloppy science and testimony by the Houston Police Department Crime Laboratory.

Sonnier is 46 years old. Half of his life has been spent in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Has a prosecutor EVER admitted that they (none / 0) (#1)
    by of1000Kings on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 06:27:32 PM EST
    were wrong?

    I mean I know they are just doing their jobs but it's amazing how steadfast they will stick to their 'convictions'...

    In every one of (none / 0) (#2)
    by eric on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 09:14:36 PM EST
    these cases, the prosecutor should be investigated to make sure that the prosecution was done in good faith.

    Also, the jurors should be notified that they got it wrong.

    not sure (none / 0) (#3)
    by cpinva on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 10:26:48 PM EST
    this is something i'd want my state to be number 1 in.

    amen (none / 0) (#4)
    by DFLer on Sun Aug 09, 2009 at 07:58:54 AM EST
    If Texas leads the nation in exonerations of the wrongfully convicted, then do they also lead in wrongful convictions?

    If your state does not require (none / 0) (#6)
    by Rojas on Mon Aug 10, 2009 at 07:30:50 AM EST
    the preservation of evidence, I suspect you will have little to worry about in that regard.

    One question should decide it completely. (none / 0) (#5)
    by tokin librul on Sun Aug 09, 2009 at 12:48:25 PM EST
    What was the race of the alleged perp and of the victim?

    This is Texas, after all, and Houston at that.