Monday, January 03, 2011

Two UPdates: Dallas, Texas: Longest Serving Prisoner CLEARED through DNA evidence

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.
Also Online

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.


connie nash said...

CA: Schwarzenegger granted clemency to Sarah Kruzan
Mon Jan 3, 2011 13:47

Kutcher, Moore thankful for murderer mercy
Monday, January 3 2011

By Daniel Sperling, Entertainment Reporter

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore have publicly thanked outgoing California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for reducing the jail sentence of a child trafficking victim who murdered her alleged pimp.

According to WENN, Schwarzenegger announced on Sunday that he had granted clemency to Sarah Kruzan - who in 1994 at the age of 16 was convicted of killing George Gilbert Howard in the state - and commuted her initial life sentence down to 25 years with the possibility of parole.

Having campaigned for Kruzan to be shown leniency due to her young age and tragic past, Moore wrote on her Twitter after the announcement: "Thank you Schwarzenegger for granting Sara Kruzan clemency."

Kutcher also expressed delight at the decision, posting on his own profile: "Thank you Arnold, congratulations Sara freedom is yours."

connie nash said...

EDITORIALS: Major Papers Around the Country Tracked DPIC's Year End Report
Posted: January 03, 2011
in EditorialsWhat's New
The information and analysis in DPIC's recent 2010 Year-End Report were reported in hundreds of media outlets around the country. Among the papers writing editorials on the trends cited in the report were the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Colorado's Aurora Sentinel. The Times' editorial, "Still Cruel, Less Usual," noted, “A report released this month by the Death Penalty Information Center counted 46 executions in 2010. That is nearly 12 percent fewer than a year ago, and down sharply from the 85 executions of 2000. . . . The center suggested a number of reasons for the decline, including that prosecutors and the public are grappling with the wrenching problem of innocence. The irreversible punishment of death requires a foolproof justice system, but growing numbers of DNA exonerations in recent years suggest that it is far from that.” The Post's editorial, "46 Executions Too Many," also cited the costs of capital cases as a significant concern: "Litigating a capital case is expensive - on average $3 million, according to the [D]eath [P]enalty [Information] [C]enter - and exceeds the costs of imprisoning an inmate for decades." The Sentinel's editorial, "Time to Rid Colorado of Death Penatly," cited some of the same statistics and trends and urged the state legislature to end capital punishment: "Colorado state lawmakers will almost certainly ponder a bill next year that would end the death penalty here. Fellow legislators should give that measure serious consideration, perhaps asking voters whether to end the practice and allow the state to join the rest of the civilized world." Read full editorials at

Connie L. Nash said...

Although not quite the usual post here, this one clearly highlights one of the greatest problems with the death penalty as well as any arrest based on faulty suppositions and poor judicial choices/lack of professional competence. Also, there is with death penalty issues as well as other imprisonments, often the swaying against the favor of people of color and people from a less than well-off background.

So, I'm glad to UPdate this post with the item just in from The Innocence Project.