Innocent Man freed from Texas Jail After 24 years
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Saturday, August 25, 2012

On August 24th, in Fort Worth, Texas, David Lee Wiggins, walked out of the courthouse accompanied by his attorney Nina Morrison, from the Innocence Project, his brother Duane Wiggins and sister Candy Berg. Wiggins was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1989 for raping a 14-year-old Fort Worth girl. The girl, whose face was covered during most of the attack, picked Wiggins out of a photo lineup and then a live lineup, saying he looked familiar.  Even though neither of the two fingerprints found at the crime scene matched Wiggins.

But in early August, DNA testing excluded Wiggins as the person who committed the crime. Tarrant County prosecutors said DNA evidence demonstrated his innocence. District Judge Louis Sturns in Fort Worth freed Wiggins on a personal bond after approving a motion to overturn his conviction. Before the crime is officially cleared from his record, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals must accept the judge's recommendation or the governor must grant a pardon. Either step is considered a formality after the judge's ruling.

Remarkably, Wiggins said in court after the judge's ruling: "I hold no bitterness. I'm thankful to Jesus Christ. He said he could move mountains, and surely this was a mountain. ...And to the victim: I'm not mad at you. I don't hold you responsible."

After Wiggins' conviction is formally reversed, he will be eligible for $80,000 a year in compensation that the state of Texas pays to wrongfully convicted ex-inmates.

Wiggins would be the second person to have a conviction overturned by DNA in Tarrant County since 2001. In neighboring Dallas County, more than 30 people have had convictions overturned since 2001. About 80 percent of wrongful convictions in Texas are due to faulty witness identifications, said Cory Session, whose half-brother Timothy Cole was wrongfully convicted in a 1985 rape and died in prison before he was declared innocent.
 Read the article here.

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