When an innocent man is sent to prison, red flags should arise around the country that something is deeply wrong with the criminal justice system. This is precisely what is happening in the state of Texas, where a former Texas prosecutor faces inquiry into his conduct in the prosecution of a 32-year-old man over 25 years ago.
For criminal defense attorneys, the story unraveling is a nightmare. A Texas man was convicted for the 1987 murder of his wife thanks to the hard work of this now on-trial former prosecutor. The young wife was brutally murdered, beaten death, in her own home in front of her three year old son. The prosecutor suspected her husband of the domestic violence crime and pursued his guilt until conviction.
However, recently, thanks to the hard work of the Innocence Project, the wrongly convicted husband was exonerated. DNA evidence revealed that another man did the crime. And, it has recently come to the attention of authorities that the former Texas prosecutor had invaluable evidence all along which pointed to the husband’s innocence, but kept this information from the court and the defense.
Specifically, neighbors reported seeing a green van parked outside the family’s home for days leading up the murder. These invaluable reports allegedly sat in the prosecutor’s file, but were never turned over to the defense. This information, combined with the fact that the husband was working at his job at the time of the murder and that his son claimed that his father was not present during the brutal beating should have allowed for the husband’s innocence rather than a conviction.
The former prosecutor now faces a rare Court of Inquiry in which it will consider prosecuting him for withholding evidence. He could face criminal charges for these allegations. The story is a deeply tragic one, but will hopefully end in the serving of justice.
Source: NPR News, “Texas court of inquiry to decide if prosecutor lied,” Wade Goodwyn, Feb. 5, 2013