Being convicted of any crime can have huge consequences, ranging from jail time to fines to damage to reputation. In Texas, a murder crime conviction might mean not only all the above, but also the death penalty. For one Texas man who has been on death row for years in the state, an opportunity to prove his innocence has become more and more real.

Approximately 20 years ago, the man’s girlfriend and her two sons were murdered by knife while the man stated he was passed out in the home. When he came to, after a vodka cocktail laced with codeine and anti-anxiety meds, he discovered the bloody scene and ran to a neighbor’s house for help. Police immediately suspected the man, who was present in the home at the time of the murder. Further, the neighbor alleges he asked her not to call the police.

Authorities were convinced the man committed the crime and thus ignored other potential suspects in their investigation. He was ultimately convicted and sentenced to death. Five years after his conviction, a number of journalism students began looking into the case and discovered some alarming facts.

First, they determined that the neighbor was convinced to falsely testify as to the allegation that the man asked her not to call the police. Second, they discovered a witness actually saw the man passed out on the couch the night of the incident. Next, the students ultimately found that a jacket discovered next to the bodies on the night of the accident contained DNA evidence not linked to the woman, the sons or the man, but was DNA of a blood relative of the woman. According to sources, the woman’s uncle is a likely suspect in the killings. The uncle had allegedly sexually abused the woman previously.

With the man on death row, the investigation is ongoing. In Texas, harsh penalties to these severe crimes should be taken seriously, by the court and the defendant. In order to ensure a fair trial, a strong criminal defense strategy will ensure that helpful evidence is presented to point out weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.

Source: Huffington Post, “Texas Inmate Defies Death As Evidence of Innocence Mounts,” David Protess, Sept. 10, 2013