Cornelius Dupree and Selma Perkins Dupree
Press Release just out (Tues, Jan 4th) from Innocence Project - here
Innocent man jailed since 1979 expected to be cleared
January 4th, 2011
Thirty years after Cornelius Dupree Jr. was jailed on rape and robbery charges, he is expected to finally have his name cleared after DNA tests proved he could not have committed the crime, according to the Innocence Project.
If a Dallas County judge agrees with Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins who said the DNA testing shows Dupree "did not commit this crime," he will set aside Dupree's conviction and officially clear his name.
Dupree will have served more years in a Texas prison for a crime he did not commit than anyone else in the state who was exonerated by DNA evidence. Only two other people exonerated by DNA have spent more time in prison in the entire country, the Innocence Project said.
"Cornelius Dupree spent the prime of his life behind bars because of mistaken identification that probably would have been avoided if the best practices now used in Dallas had been employed,” Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, said in a press release. "Let us never forget that, as in the heartbreaking case of Cornelius Dupree, a staggering 75% of wrongful convictions of people later cleared by DNA evidence resulted from misidentifications.”
Dupree was paroled six months ago after DNA tests results came back and was declared innocent on Monday, the Innocence Project said. Now, the 51-year-old man is just waiting for his record to officially be wiped clean by a judge.
Dupree was accused of being one of two men who forced a 26-year-old woman and another male into a car at gunpoint in 1979, forcing them to drive the car and robbing them in the process, according to court documents. The two men also were accused of raping the female, court documents said.
The female initially identified Dupree from a photo line-up, but the male was unable to do so, according to court documents. At trial, however, both victims said Dupree and his co-defendant Anthony Massingill were the ones who committed the crime. They were convicted, and Dupree was sentenced to 75 years. Massingill, who is also serving time for a separate rape charge, is expected to also have his conviction set aside, the Innocence Project said.
Dupree has been fighting for his innocence since the day he was arrested, and for years following his conviction claiming he was mistakenly identified as the suspect. The Court of Criminal Appeals turned him down three times.
“Mistaken identification has always plagued the criminal justice system, but great strides have been made in the last three decades to understand the problem and come up with fixes like those being considered by the state Legislature that help minimize wrongful convictions,” Nina Morrison, senior staff attorney at the Innocence Project, said in a press release. “We hope state lawmakers take note of the terrible miscarriage of justice suffered by Cornelius. When the wrong person is convicted of a crime, the real perpetrator goes free, harming everyone.”
Dallas County man (to be) cleared in 1979 robbery, rape will be Texas' longest-serving exoneree
01:17 PM CST on Monday, January 3, 2011
By JENNIFER EMILY / The Dallas Morning News
A Dallas County man is expected to be exonerated Tuesday in connection with a 1979 robbery and rape.
Cornelius Dupree Jr.
Cornelius Dupree Jr., the 21st man exonerated in Dallas County, will have served the longest prison term of any Texas inmate cleared through DNA evidence. He was paroled over the summer after serving 30 years of a 75-year sentence.
Full coverage: DNA exonerations
Dupree, 51, was convicted of aggravated robbery after two men abducted a man and woman on Dolphin Road in Dallas, said Paul Cates of The Innocence Project in New York.
The two kidnappers forced the man out of the car and later sexually assaulted the woman before shoving her out of the vehicle.
Cates said the rape victim wrongly identified Dupree in a photo array. The man could not pick out Dupree in a photo lineup. At trial, both victims identified Dupree as one of the men who abducted them in court.
Another man, Anthony Massingill, was also cleared in the same case, said Nina Morrison, an attorney with The Innocence Project.
Massingill, 49, will not take part in Tuesday’s court hearing. He was convicted in a second rape case and is waiting to see if there is evidence that can be tested in that case.
Morrison said the two actual perpetrators have not been identified. She said she does not know whether authorities have searched the national DNA database to see if the perpetrators are in the system.
Dupree's exoneration is the first involving DNA in Dallas County since May 2009. Since then, three men have been cleared with other evidence.