Posts Tagged ‘Innocence Project of Texas’


Exoneration Anniversary: Darryl Adams and Ronald Eubanks

Taylor Thornton — February 08, 2018 @ 12:00 PM — Comments (0)

Happy Exoneration Anniversary to Darryl Adams and Ronald Eubanks!

On August 12, 1992, Darryl Adams and Ronald Eubanks were woken from their sleep on the street near a Salvation Army shelter by a police officer around 2 a.m. The officer had been sent over by a citizen who reported seeing a woman being raped nearby. Upon the officer waking the two men and the woman sleeping close by, the woman had initially denied being raped. But, once pulled away from the two men she told officers that Adams had, in fact, raped her and that Eubanks had attempted to as well. The two were arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault.

A month later, both men pled guilty to the charge in Dallas County Criminal District Court. They were each initially sentenced to 10 years of probation. But after being charged with a burglary Adams had his probation revoked and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Eubanks had his probation revoked as well and was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being caught using marijuana.

The co-defendants sought DNA testing over the next 20 years. Finally, with the help of the Innocence Project of Texas, a series of DNA tests were performed. A test of the rape kit done in 2014 uncovered a male DNA profile that did not match Adams nor Eubanks. Adams’ and Eubanks’ lawyers subsequently sought to vacate their convictions by filing similar state law petitions.

Adams’ writ was granted and petition vacated in March of 2016 by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the same occurred for Eubanks in December of 2016. One year ago today, on February 8, 2017 the prosecution dismissed the charges against Adams and Eubanks.

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Two Men Cleared of Rape by DNA, But Exonerations Uncertain

Alejandra de la Fuente — June 10, 2016 @ 1:00 PM — Comments (0)

DNA results have cleared Darryl Adams of the rape for which he was convicted of 24 years ago, but it is unclear whether he will be exonerated or will be eligible to receive compensation for his wrongful conviction. Adams case was riddled with problems, which his lawyers say could and should have prevented his conviction from the start.

In 1992, after a witness reported seeing a rape, police were called to the scene near a Salvation Army and found Adams, another man, and a woman along with her two young children sleeping on the sidewalk. When officers woke them to ask what happened, the woman initially claimed that nothing occurred. After the officers moved her away from Adams and the other man, Ronald Eubanks, the victim told them that Adams had sexually assaulted her and Eubanks had tried to, but was unable. She told police that the men threatened to hurt her children, which is why she denied the rape at first. Adams and Eubanks were both arrested.

Despite DNA results later clearing both men of the rape, officials are still unsure whether the witness’ identification of Adams and Eubanks was a case of mistaken identification, which can be attributed to a large number of wrongful convictions, or if she lied. The Innocence Project of Texas now represents Adams. The project’s president, Gary Udashen, said although he is unsure, he believes the victim lied and that she made up a story because she was scared that police would take her children away from her. In addition, the caller who reported the rape gave a fake name, so the district attorney’s office was unable to locate him/her.

Both Adams and Eubanks accepted plea bargains offered by the DA’s office while they were in jail, entailing “deferred adjudication” probation in which they would not be convicted so long as they carried out all the requirements of the deal. According to Udashen, Adams accepted the plea bargain to get out of jail quickly. He went on to say that the DA’s office would have dismissed the case because Adams’ situation is an example in which people take probation for a case that a jury would not have convicted them of in the first place.

Shortly after accepting the plea deals, however, Adams burglarized a building and did not pay required fees, and Eubanks did not provide a urine sample drug test, was found to have marijuana in his system, did not pay fees or fines, and missed meetings with his probation officer. They were sent to prison for violating their probation, and Eubanks received 10 years for sexual assault and Adams was sentenced to 25 years for sexual assault in addition to 20 years for the burglary charge.

In March, the highest criminal court in Texas—the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals—granted Adams a new trial. It is now up to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office to determine whether they will retry Adams or dismiss the case. The case can be dismissed in two ways—one would exonerate him and grant him compensation, and the other would free him without declaring him innocent. Udashen called the case weird and weak, to which Patricia Cummings, the Dallas County prosecutor that supervises the conviction integrity unit, agreed. The DA’s office has not ruled out retrying the case, and agrees that Adams should be granted a new trial. Adams’ attorneys plan to ask the office to declare him innocent. Udashen stated that because of the DNA results and the fact that the victim in the case died about 15 years ago, it is unlikely that the case will be retried.

In August 2014, Adams was released on bond, but was charged with misdemeanor DWI while he was out. He now lives with family, however, and also has a job.

Eubanks is also seeking to be exonerated for the rape charge, but there has yet to be a ruling handed down by the Court of Criminal Appeals. Although the case has been decided, it is unclear why it is taking so long for the appellate court to write the ruling. The delay could be due to the fact that there is no DNA available for testing since Eubanks was never accused of leaving any, so DNA test results may not help his case. Another possible reason is because Eubanks presented a different legal argument than Adams. While Adams asked for and was granted a new trial based on new scientific DNA evidence that was unavailable at the time of the original handling of his case, Eubanks asked to be declared “actually innocent” in his case by the appellate court.

The DA’s office is waiting to take action in Adams’ case until Eubanks’ case has been ruled on, so they will keep the cases tied together for the time being since they have been intertwined from the get-go, even though nothing requires them to do so. Cummings stated that the office could change its plan should Eubanks’ case continue to remain at the appellate court, which has no deadline to reach a ruling. She went on to say that if the cases are dismissed based on actual innocence, then Adams and Eubanks could both be exonerated.

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A Recap of the 2016 Innocence Network Conference

Alejandra de la Fuente — June 08, 2016 @ 1:00 PM — Comments (0)

Since 2000, the Innocence Network (IN) has held their annual IN Conference to address the many facets surrounding the topic of wrongful conviction. The IN is composed of more than 60 member organizations around the world that share the goal of providing pro bono legal and investigative services to defendants who claim they are innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted, in addition to advocating for reforms to the criminal justice system.

This year’s conference was held Thursday, April 7 through Saturday, April 9 in San Antonio, Texas. Nearly 600 guests attended the event, including about 160 exonerees and their family and friends, staff from IN member organizations, lawyers, elected officials, and the general public. The conference focuses on wrongful conviction and issues surrounding the topic by providing services such as training workshops, discussions on the causes of and contributors to wrongful convictions, and presentations from exonerees about their experiences. An article posted to a local San Antonio news station’s website about the conference includes a few examples of those individual stories told by exonerees, and can be accessed here.

Texas was arguably the perfect location for this year’s conference, as the state had the highest number of exonerations in the nation last year. According to the National Registry of Exoneration’s annual report, there were 149 exonerations across the United States in 2015—54 of which occurred in Texas. The state has also had the highest number of exonerations in a given jurisdiction for the past 2 years, with 39 of the 125 total exonerations in 2014 and 13 of the 87 total exonerations in 2013. In addition, San Antonio perhaps contributed to the conference’s ideal location because of a well-known case that took place in the city. The group of women known as the “San Antonio Four” were released in 2013 after one of the victims in the case recanted her testimony and a medical exam was discredited, clearing the women of their charges for aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child. The “San Antonio Four” are still working to be completely exonerated, however, with the help of the Innocence Project of Texas.

Several staff members with the Innocence Project of Florida attended the conference, including executive director Seth Miller. Seth is also the current president of the IN, and presented at the conference as well.

Highlights and photos from the 2016 IN Conference can be viewed here.

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Today in Wrongful Conviction History: April 9

Alejandra de la Fuente — April 09, 2016 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)

Today is the exoneration anniversary Timothy B. Cole, who unfortunately is no longer with us.

Timothy was exonerated in Texas in 2009 with help from the Innocence Project and the Innocence Project of Texas. He is the namesake of so much positive innocence protection reform efforts in Texas.

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New Innocence-Related Book

Seth — May 07, 2010 @ 4:00 PM — Comments (1)

Our friends at the Innocence Project of Texas let us know about a new book that just came out called A Plea for Justice: The Tim Cole Story.  Tim was recently posthumously exonerated through DNA testing after he died in prison of an asthma attack.  He had his life stolen from him as a college student when he was convicted of a brutal rape.  If you would like to purchase the book, you can do so at Amazon.com.

IN the meantime, here is the foreward by IPOT’s Jeff Blackburn:

In 1985, Tim Cole, a college student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, was arrested on a brutal rape charge. A decent young man with his whole life ahead of him, he was convicted, sentenced, and sent to prison, where he died during an asthma attack. He was entirely innocent of the crime of which he was accused.

Those of us who work to free the innocent in Texas confront a great many problems: the legal system is a stacked deck; there is no real funding for the work; there are too many people who have been framed in this state; and too few volunteers to work at getting them released.  The worst problem of all, however, is the lack of public support.

As the founder of, and chief counsel for, the Innocence Project of Texas, I travel all over the state trying to garner support for our movement.  From Rotary clubs and rallies, church groups and caucuses, I’ve learned that freeing the innocent is not a popular cause. I’ve come to realize that most people believe very few of their fellow citizens are falsely convicted.  They think the problem, such as it is, is being handled by the system. Finally, they’re convinced that nothing like this could ever happen to them.

A Plea For Justice: The Timothy Cole Story demonstrates how misguided such thinking is. Objective and detailed, the book reveals the facts of this tragic case. McKinley’s authorial voice is not overheated, rhetorical, or angry, and he grinds no political axes.  Instead, he sets out a balanced account of just what happened. By telling the story as an honest reporter, McKinley has done more to reveal the flaws of the Texas system than any reform advocate or “movement person” ever could.

More than once, those of us who worked on Tim’s case said someone should tell the true story of what happened to him.  We knew that if the story, which was far deeper than the one described by headlines and thirty-second TV spots, could just get out there, more people would come to understand that what happened to Tim Cole was by no means a rare aberration.  We knew that if all the facts of this case were revealed, the public might have a lesson in injustice and what it takes to fix it.

As it turns out, Fred B. McKinley is the writer who has told the story. Anyone who wants to know the truth about how our criminal justice system really works should read this book. Anyone who wants to know what the system does to its victims should also read it.  When told well, as in these pages, truth has the power to change people’s minds.

Until that day, some of us will keep fighting for the Tim Coles of the world, but now, armed with this book, we’ll do so with more faith than we had before.

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