In fewer than two years in office, Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins has become a star for who he is not — namely legendary DA Henry Wade. Watkins has embraced the help of the Innocence Project and has worked to free the wrongfully convicted, blaming the “conviction at all costs” mentality of his predecessors’ administrations as a reason for the injustice. Watkins has received national media attention: CBS’ “60 Minutes” chronicled his efforts to exonerate numerous inmates based on new DNA testing and newspapers have written flattering profiles about Watkins’ rise to power. He has been lauded for setting up a Conviction Integrity Unit in the office. And Watkins made news last month when he suggested that Texas law be changed so that prosecutors who withhold exculpatory evidence from the defense in criminal cases could be charged criminally. But until now, the current and former prosecutors responsible for sending 17 men to prison for years — a total of 282 years to be exact — have rarely been heard from. So Texas Lawyer filed an open-records request with the Dallas County DA’s office to receive the names of all 29 prosecutors who tried and helped convict the 17 men. [See "The Exonerated, the Prosecutors and the Judges," below.] The list received from the DA’s office on May 27 includes an impressive roster of attorneys who have gone on to become some of the state’s top prosecutors, criminal-defense lawyers and state district judges. The list even includes Jane Boyle, a former Dallas County prosecutor who now is a U.S. district judge, and Andy Beach, currently one of Watkins’ chief lieutenants. Texas Lawyer called every lawyer on the list — one could not be located and one is deceased — to ask them about the men they prosecuted between 1981 and 2000 who have now been set free from prison. The DA’s office declined to release information about one of the 17 men because his record is expunged, and the trial records of another exonerated man’s case — including the names of the prosecutors — were unavailable, according to Christine Womble, the assistant DA who processed the open-records request. Some of the lawyers don’t remember details of the cases they tried years ago. But others remember them like the cases happened yesterday. One was even driven to tears when recalling the trial of a man she helped send to prison for 15 years who has since been pardoned. Most of the 17 cases are strikingly similar — a victim of a sexual assault positively identified her attacker in a photo lineup or in court, testimony that was nearly impossible to contradict at the time because of the limitations of forensic science. In the early 1980s DNA testing was not available. And while DNA testing was used in the 1990s it became even more sophisticated a decade later. In each of the 17 cases, it was DNA evidence that helped set the men free after years of wrongful incarceration. “In the criminal justice system, people are being convicted on one-witness cases. And what this says to me is we’ve got an inherent problem about how many of these cases we’re getting wrong. And it’s still going on today,” says James Fry, a former Dallas prosecutor who helped send a man to prison for 27 years for a crime he didn’t commit. “My question to everybody involved in this across the state and across the nation is what are we going to do about this? I don’t know.” All of the current and former assistant district attorneys Texas Lawyer spoke with say that neither they nor Wade — or successive Dallas DAs John Vance or Bill Hill — placed a higher priority on convictions than justice. Most say they put on the best cases they could with limited or no scientific evidence. Some of them even agree with Watkins’ proposition that prosecutors should be criminally liable for hiding exculpatory evidence. But they all stress that in their cases, they always gave such evidence to defense lawyers. The Innocence Project of Texas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to overturning wrongful convictions, provided the conviction and exoneration information about 15 of the men in italics below. Here are the prosecutors’ stories: • David Shawn Pope was convicted in 1986 of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to 45 years in prison. He was pardoned in 2001. Pope spent 15 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Pope was prosecuted by Kim Gilles, assisted by Dan Hagood. Gilles is now a Denton County assistant district attorney, and Hagood is a criminal-defense attorney and partner in Dallas’ Fitzpatrick Hagood Smith & Uhl. Gilles gets emotional when talking for the first time with a reporter about Pope’s case. But it’s likely that if it weren’t for Gilles, Pope would still be in prison. “Talk about walking the floors and crying, that was me,” says Gilles when she learned years ago that DNA evidence didn’t match Pope’s. “But that victim to this day will tell you that was him. But what do you do? You have to do what is right. It’s my shame, do you understand?” Gilles says the case involved a perpetrator who was accused of breaking into a woman’s apartment and raping her. The perpetrator had used a knife to threaten the woman and then called her after the assault and left threatening messages on her answering machine, Gilles says. At the time of the attack, Pope lived in his car in the parking lot of the woman’s apartment and police found a knife in his car that was similar to one taken from the woman’s apartment, Gilles says. An expert at trial used “voice print” analysis to match Pope’s voice with the messages on the answering machine. Although an appellate court ruling discredited the voice-print analysis, it affirmed Pope’s conviction, Gilles says. Years later Gilles, who had become the Dallas County DA’s office chief of administration, received a call from one of Pope’s relatives who insisted Pope was innocent. The relative asked if there was anyway Gilles could check into Pope’s case. Gilles says she told the relative that DNA testing was new and evidence had been preserved in Pope’s case. “Let me tell you how often we hear this. But yeah, we can check into it,” Gilles recalls telling the relative. Gilles says she was positive the evidence wouldn’t clear Pope. She distanced herself from the post-conviction investigation so she wouldn’t influence the outcome, she says. When the DNA test excluded Pope as the attacker, Gilles says she was floored. She says she met with then-DA Bill Hill, an investigator and a prosecutor from the office’s appellate division about what to do next in Pope’s case. They put that decision in Gilles’ hands, she says. “You’ve got that he’s living out of his car in the apartment complex. You’ve got her testimony. And then on the other side you’ve got DNA,” Gilles says. “It was easy, he walks.” Hagood, who picked the jury for Pope’s trial, remembers little about it because it was 22 years ago, except that it was unusual because of the voice-print analysis testimony. “It was so odd for the defendant to call back the victim. I only had that happen one other time while I was at the DA’s office,” Hagood says. Hagood says Wade employed honorable lawyers and investigators, of which Gilles was one. “I would tell you, Kim Gilles has unimpeachable credibility in my mind,” Hagood says. Gilles says she also had a conversation with her two daughters about Pope’s case after the DNA test came back. “It was a horrible. I . . . sat my children down and I told them it might make the front page of the paper,” says Gilles. “I . . . told them if you know the truth, it really doesn’t matter what other people say.” When Watkins took office in January 2007, Gilles says she met with him to go over budget matters and other concerns he would face. One thing she mentioned was that the DNA tests on several Dallas convictions were ongoing at the time. She explained that evidence dating back decades had been preserved by the office. And she said the office would likely be embarrassed by numerous exonerations. “Twelve of them were already done, and they were already out. The 13th was being investigated,” Gilles says. “I told Craig that this has to keep going. And he was all over that.” Gilles says she later decided to leave the Dallas County DA’s office. She interviewed with Paul Johnson, who became the new Denton County DA in January 2007. “I told the DA here I was involved in one of these [exoneration cases] and I don’t want to embarrass you. And it is embarrassing to me,” Gilles says. She got the job. • Wiley Fountain was convicted in 1986 of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to 40 years in prison. He was pardoned in 2003. Fountain spent 16 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Fountain was prosecuted by Lana McDaniel, assisted by Cynthia Hayter. McDaniel, whose last name now is Meyers, is judge of the 203rd District Court in Dallas. Hayter’s last name now is Green; she no longer practices law. Meyers hasn’t looked back at the trial record in Fountain’s case since his conviction, but she still remembers the unusual facts about the sexual assault case that sent him to prison. A woman was on her way to work, waiting for a bus, when a man came out from some bushes, grabbed her, dragged her into the bushes and raped her, Meyers says. A witness called police. The victim told the police that the man who raped her was wearing a shower cap, Meyers says. “The police started searching the area, and they found a man wearing a shower cap meeting the same description,” Meyers says. “They put him in a lineup and she [the victim] picked him out.” Meyers says that forensic evidence was limited in Fountain’s case. “At that time all they could do is look for genetic markers in the seminal fluid,” Meyers says. But the accuracy of the test was compromised because the victim was pregnant when she was attacked. The test performed on the seminal fluid in Fountain’s case “did not exclude him.” “It was a jury trial, and she identified him, and the jury believed her,” Meyers says. When Meyers learned that a DNA test years later cleared Fountain, it surprised her. “It’s just tragic he spent all of that time in prison,” Meyers says. “Because of the lack of technology this was the unfortunate result.” “We were not acting in bad faith. We prosecuted what we had. And the police thought they had the right man. And the victim thought she had the right man, and they were wrong.” Meyers, who was hired by Wade in 1982 for $4.25 an hour as an intern as she awaited her Texas bar exam results, says during her time working at the Dallas County DA’s office she knew of no prosecutor who bent the rules to win convictions. While there was no open-file policy in the office at that time, Meyers says she routinely let defense attorneys see her files back then. “I was one of those prosecutors who said, “OK, here it is,’ ” says Meyers, who left the DA’s office in 1994. “ That protected me, and it was the right thing to do.” Green does not remember any details of the case. • Charles Chatman was convicted of aggravated rape in 1981 and sentenced to 99 years in prison. He was exonerated in 2008. Chatman spent 27 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Chatman was prosecuted by James Fry, assisted by Douglas Fletcher. Fry is now a family law solo in Sherman, and Fletcher is a partner in Dallas’ Fletcher, Farley, Krueger, Shipman & Salinas. While it’s easy to forget the details of a 27-year-old case, Fry still remembers Chatman’s case vividly, because it was the first felony case he tried as a lead prosecutor. “I remember the victim as if it were yesterday,” Fry says. “The lady was a 55-year-old virgin. She was a nurse who lived . . . with her family and was savagely raped while she was in her home. She was tied up.” Fry doesn’t remember how Chatman became a suspect but does remember that the victim identified him in a live lineup and in court. “I presented the evidence that the blood type of the person who had raped the victim had matched the defendant. It’s not a positive ID, but it narrowed it down,” Fry says. An alibi witness who testified for the defense said Chatman was at work at the time of the crime, but at trial there were no documents to support it, Fry says. “Weak defense, guy gets convicted and the judge sentenced him to 99 years. It happens all of the time. It happened then, it happens now,” Fry says. “It certainly was not one of those things that it was the policy of the district attorney’s office to hide any exculpatory evidence. It’s a tragic case where the victim was just wrong.” Fletcher says he hadn’t thought about that case in years until a producer from the “Dr. Phil” talk show called him months ago and wanted him to appear on an episode focused on DNA exonerations. Fletcher declined, because he was not the lead prosecutor on the case and had limited involvement. “The No. 2 prosecutor would pick the jury. You might spend five minutes in closing argument and the lead may spend 40 minutes,” Fletcher says. When the Dallas DNA exonerations started receiving extensive media coverage last year, Fry hoped none of the cases he tried would be one of them. Then earlier this year he read about Chatman’s DNA exoneration in the newspaper. “With my witness having no motive to lie, I believed her,” Fry says. “And when I read about it in The Dallas Morning News it hit me like a ton of bricks.” Fletcher says he was trained and supervised by fine prosecutors during the Wade administration who did their jobs within the bounds of their professional oath to uphold justice. But he doesn’t argue with critics who have taken issue with the way cases were handled when he was a prosecutor. “I don’t fault anyone for doing what they’re doing,” Fletcher says. “But you can look back on any profession. Doctors can look back at doctors 30 years ago and say . . . “Why were they treating cancer that way?’” • Larry Charles Fuller was convicted in 1981 of aggravated rape and sentenced to life in prison. He was pardoned in 2007. Fuller spent 25 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Fuller was prosecuted by Jim Jacks, assisted by Robert M. Phillips. Jacks now is the first assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, and Phillips now is a criminal-defense attorney with Robert M. Phillips & Associates in Georgetown. These days, Jim Jacks is so consumed preparing for the retrial in United States v. Holy Land Foundation, et al. — a massive federal criminal case in which a Richardson charity organization is accused of sending money to support Hamas — he can barely recall the facts of Fuller’s case. “You know, I really don’t remember much more than the name. And a lot of what I remember I guess was being supplied by” newspaper articles about his exoneration. According to a Jan. 22, 2007, article in the Morning News, the victim was attacked in her home by a man with a knife. She later picked Fuller out of photo lineups in which his picture was the only one present in both lineups. At trial, a prosecutor, who the article does not identify, inaccurately summed up the scientific testimony by saying it placed Fuller among 20 percent of the male population that could have committed the crime, according to the article. “In this case, you had an eyewitness that was sure he was the person. And I’m operating at this point [on memory] that I’m not sure what other evidence there might have been,” Jacks says. “Obviously the technology wasn’t there at the time to find out what the true facts were. As to the report that I inaccurately stated something about the evidence, I don’t recall. Back then you could determine blood type and whether the person was a secretor.” Jacks says during the time he worked at the DA’s office, from 1979 to 1982, he was surrounded by honorable prosecutors. “The people I worked with were genuinely trying to do the right thing. You talked to the witnesses, and you look at the defense presentation, and make your decision based on that.” Jacks is relieved that Fuller has been released from prison. “And I’m sure it’s of little consequence to Mr. Fuller. “Thank goodness it has come out,” Jacks says. Phillips says he does not recall anything about the case. • James Curtis Giles was convicted in 1983 of aggravated sexual abuse and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was exonerated in 2007. Giles spent 24 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Giles was prosecuted by Mike O’Connor, now a civil attorney with Bryan’s O’Connor & Associates, assisted by David Jarvis. O’Connor hardly remembered Giles’ case until prosecutors with the Dallas County DA’s office asked him last year to review the file as part of a post-conviction investigation. “When I went through the file, it brought back more memories than I had independently,” O’Connor says. “It wasn’t anything unusual, it was just one of the cases we tried every month and year.” According to an April 10, 2007, Dallas Morning News article, evidence, including genetic testing and circumstantial evidence, led the Dallas DA’s office to conclude that another man, a neighbor named James Earl “Quack” Giles, committed the crime; he is now dead. The victim, who had been gang-raped, mistakenly picked James Curtis Giles. “His name got put in a lineup, and she picked him out. It just turned out to be the wrong James Giles,” O’Connor says. “I certainly feel sorry for Mr. Giles, and I hope he gets all of the compensation he can from the state,” O’Connor says. “I certainly feel bad that the system didn’t work for him and wish him the best.” Jarvis did not return two telephone calls seeking comment. • Donald Wayne Good was convicted in 1984 of rape and burglary and sentenced to life in prison. He was exonerated in 2004. Good spent more than 13 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit. Good was prosecuted by Winfield Scott, now retired from the practice of law, and Joan Alexander, whose last name now is Marshall. She is a lawyer with the Dallas field office of the federal Office of Special Counsel. Marshall can’t remember much about the facts about Good’s trial. “I don’t recall much about that case, because I was minimally involved. Winfield ran everything,” Marshall says. When contacted, Scott says, “I know what case you’re calling about.” He refers questions to the Dallas County DA’s office. “All of that is a matter of public record. All I can say is talk to them.” After DNA evidence cleared Good in 2005, he filed Good v. City of Irving, a civil-rights suit, in U.S. District Court in Dallas in 2006. According to his complaint, Good was accused of breaking into an Irving home, tying up a young girl and raping her mother. The woman identified Good in a photo lineup, but Good alleged in the suit that Irving police distorted his photo to increase the chances the woman would identify him. The city has denied Good’s allegations in a response filed in the court. The case is pending. “There was nothing that I recall about that case that the police did anything improper,” Marshall says. If DNA had been available in 1984, Good likely wouldn’t have been convicted, Marshall says. “Obviously we prosecuted him with whatever evidence we had. “I talk with other former prosecutors, and it’s as if we’re heathens for all of these cases. And we weren’t,” Marshall says. “If we had doubts, we took things to Mr. Wade or our supervisors.” Marshall says Wade freely let his ADAs dismiss cases that had questionable evidence. And she takes offense at the allegations that Wade had a “conviction at all costs” mentality. “It seems like it’s a total besmirching of his memory and his reputation. He was a very fair man when I dealt with him,” Marshall says of Wade. “He didn’t care what race or what sex you were. That was irrelevant to him.” • Andrew Gossett was convicted of aggravated assault in 2000 and was sentenced to 50 years in prison. He was exonerated in 2007. Gossett spent seven years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Gossett was prosecuted by Mary Anne Haren, assisted by Tina Yoo. Haren, whose last name now is Gallagher, is still an assistant district attorney with the Dallas County DA’s office who is assigned to the civil division. Yoo is a partner in Dallas’ Choe Holen Yoo & Burchfiel and is a Democratic candidate for a seat on Dallas’ 5th Court of Appeals. Like other prosecutors, Gallagher says what she remembers most about Gossett’s case is the victim. “She was an ER nurse. She was driving a van, and the guy jumped in and had her drive to a remote area” and raped her, Gallagher says. “She picked him out in a lineup a day or two after the assault. I remember that there was just no question.” Even though there was DNA evidence in the case and DNA testing was available in 2000, there wasn’t enough of a sample in Gossett’s case for a forensic test. “I think we might have brought someone in from [a crime-testing laboratory] to testify that there wasn’t enough,” Gallagher says. Gallagher says she was surprised when a subsequent DNA test cleared Gossett. “Thank God we have the technology now to do this kind of thing,” Gallagher says. When it comes to justice, she sees little difference between the tenure of Bill Hill, who was Dallas County DA when she tried Gossett, and Watkins. “Since I’ve worked here, people have told me to do the right thing and seek justice,” Gallagher says. “They’re still saying that.” Yoo, who picked the jury in the Gossett case, is glad Watkins made exonerations a priority in his administration. “I don’t have any big issues with what they are doing with Project Innocence. I think it’s a good idea. And I would have said that back then, too,” Yoo says. “We did everything we could on the DNA side.” ” Thomas McGowan was convicted in two separate trials in 1985 and 1986 of aggravated sexual assault and burglary and sentenced to two consecutive life terms. He was released from prison in April. McGowan spent 23 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit. McGowan was prosecuted by Randy Manasco in both trials, assisted by Mark Hasse in the first trial and Kim Gilles in the second trial. Manasco died in 1999, and Hasse could not be located for comment. Gilles, now a Denton County assistant district attorney, vaguely remembers McGowan’s 1986 trial. “I remember picking a case with Randy,” Gilles says. “I think it was a one-eyewitness case, and it was a woman who was home alone, and the home had a sliding glass door.” The victim was sexually assaulted when she arrived at her apartment in Richardson to discover an unknown perpetrator burglarizing her residence, according to a release from the Dallas County DA’s office. Regardless, it’s a case she’s not proud to be associated with, she says. “I don’t like having been involved in it in any shape, way or form,” Gilles says. “There is no greater tragedy in the system of having the wrong person convicted. “My theory on that is, it’s a tragedy for the victim who doesn’t see the true offender prosecuted,” Gilles says. “And if we’re doing our job, we’re carefully identifying a case. And let’s not ignore who the greatest tragedy is — the person that was convicted.” Gilles says there was no “conviction at all costs” mentality when she served in the Dallas County DA’s office. “If you are a prosecutor who has the right motivation in doing what you do, which is not for political gain, and you feel a compulsion to be in the criminal justice system, and you have compassion . . . it is absolutely your worst nightmare to have a person wrongfully convicted.” • Billy Wayne Miller was convicted in 1984 of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to 50 years in prison. He was pardoned in 2006. Miller spent 22 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Miller was prosecuted by Kevin Chapman, assisted by Andy Beach. Chapman has since left the practice of law and now owns Boon-Chapman, an Austin company that administers health insurance plans. Beach is now chief supervising prosecutor over the child abuse and family violence sections at the Dallas County DA’s office. To this day, Chapman can list the numerous reasons why Miller was tried for aggravated sexual assault. And Beach says they had no choice but to try him given the evidence in the case. Chapman says the victim was walking home from a friend’s house when a man driving a Chevrolet car offered her a ride. She got in and gave him directions, but the man ignored her, pulled out a handgun and took her to a remote area where he raped her repeatedly. The man then drove her to a house; on the way the woman noticed two street signs. The man had a key to the house, opened the door, forced her inside and sexually assaulted her again, Chapman says. The victim convinced the man to take her to a friend’s house, which he did. Once there the victim ran inside, locked the door and called police, Chapman says. “She had memorized the tag number of the car, gave them that and told them about the street names. And she took them back there from memory,” Chapman says. The Chevrolet was parked outside, but one number was different on the license plate than what the victim had provided. “The car is registered to Miller’s dad. And he’s [Miller] arrested inside. I think they brought him out, and she saw him at the scene” and identified him. Chapman is still mystified as to how he could have prosecuted the wrong man. “What are the probabilities of all of these things happening and him not being the bad guy?” Chapman has pondered numerous times what he could have done differently in that case to reach a different result. “It did shake my confidence. The thought of this man spending 22 years in prison for something he didn’t do is something I can’t really stand to think about,” Chapman says. “But it’s not any help to Mr. Miller.” ( Beach agrees with Chapman’s summation of the case. “There’s the street names. She got the license plate number and positively identifies him,” Beach says. “What are you supposed to do with that case, not try it? What can I tell you?” Beach left the DA’s office in the 1990s, had a successful civil practice in Fort Worth, returned to the DA’s office in 2003 and was promoted to a supervisor role by Watkins in 2007. [See "Higher Calling," Texas Lawyer, July 17, 2006, page 1.] There was no “conviction at all costs” mentality during the Wade administration, Beach says. Notes Beach: “We didn’t do any of that stuff that’s been attributed to us by people who weren’t there and have their own agendas.” • Stephen Charles Phillips was convicted in 1982 and 1983 in separate trials for a series of rapes. He was released on parole in 2007 after spending 23 years in prison. In the 1982 trial, Phillips was prosecuted by Reed Prospere, now a Dallas criminal-defense lawyer, assisted by Stewart Robinson. In the 1983 trial, Phillips was prosecuted by Chris Stokes, now senior litigation counsel in the fraud and public corruption section in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, and Jane Jackson, whose last name is now Boyle. Boyle is a U.S. district judge in Dallas. Phillips’ case is fresh in Prospere’s mind, he says, because the Dallas County DA’s office recently asked him to review the file and submit an affidavit. As he thumbed through the file, he noticed that he had not made any pretrial notes in the case, indicating that he likely was asked to handle it on the eve of trial as a favor for another prosecutor. But he also didn’t see anything in the file that indicated Phillips shouldn’t have been tried. “You’ve got five or six or eight women that picked him out of a lineup. . . . Looking at it, there’s nothing in that file that would have given me, Stewart, Chris Stokes or Janie Jackson any indication that we needed to go back and investigate this particular angle of the case.” Robinson, who picked a jury with Prospere in that trial, did not return two telephone calls seeking comment. Post-conviction testing of DNA evidence in Phillips’ case showed that it belonged to Sidney Alvin Goodyear who died 10 years ago in a Texas prison, according to a press release by the Dallas County DA’s office. All four prosecutors who handled Phillips’ cases were assigned to the career-criminal section, which was staffed with the DA’s office’s elite prosecutors, Stokes says. “It’s just so surprising,” Stokes says of Phillips’ exoneration. “At the time, it was such a feel-good prosecution. There was no question or indication that we didn’t have the right man.” Boyle did not return two telephone calls seeking comment. Prospere and Stokes say there was no “conviction at all costs” attitude when they worked for Wade. “Henry Wade would have kicked your ass if he thought you cut corners,” Prospere says. “He wouldn’t have tolerated it for a second.” • Billy James Smith was convicted in 1986 of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to life in prison. He was exonerated in 2006. Smith spent 19 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Smith was prosecuted by Dee Shipman, now judge of the 211th District Court in Denton County. Shipman did not return two telephone calls seeking comment. • Keith Edward Turner was convicted in 1983 of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was pardoned in 2005. Turner spent four years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Turner was prosecuted by Robert M. Phillips, now a criminal-defense attorney in Georgetown, and Charles Mitchell, now a partner in Fort Worth’s Brown Dean Wiseman Liser Proctor & Hart who does insurance-defense work. Phillips and Miller say they both tried hundreds of cases during their time with the Dallas County DA’s office in the 1980s, and both are at a loss to remember anything about Turner’s case. “Typically all I would have done was pick the jury and done the opening of the final argument,” Mitchell says. “I’m not even aware of what DNA they’ve found.” “It’s slanderous to say we were a “conviction at all costs’ office,” Phillips says. “That’s B.S.” Mitchell says. “You can quote me on that.” • James Waller was convicted in 1983 of aggravated sexual abuse and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was pardoned in 2007. Waller spent 10 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Waller was prosecuted by Mark Nancarrow, who later became judge of the 204th District Court and now is a criminal-defense solo, and Glenn MacTaggart, now of counsel in San Antonio’s Pritchard Hawkins McFarland & Young. What sticks out about Waller’s case is that a notebook Waller owned was found outside the window of an apartment of a 12-year-old boy he was accused of sexually assaulting, Nancarrow says. However, a cutting-edge DNA test of a hair sample in Waller’s case led a state district judge to conclude Waller couldn’t have committed the crime, freeing him from his conviction in 2007; Waller was on parole at the time. “I don’t know what you can really say in that situation. It’s a shame they didn’t have that technology at the time,” Nancarrow says. “I’m sure you can ask that question of all of the jurors as well. Everybody’s happy that if he’s an innocent man, it’s finally brought to light.” Waller was convicted largely on the basis of eyewitness testimony. [See "Right Without a Remedy," Texas Lawyer, Dec. 10, 2001, page 1.] Still, it’s the kind of case that absent DNA evidence would still result in a conviction, Nancarrow says. “If you have DNA and it can exonerate them, great,” Nancarrow says. “But if not, those cases are still being tried.” “That’s not the only case I tried that was limited to one or more people identifying a defendant. Unfortunately people can make mistakes, and you hope the jury system can ferret out questionable identifications,” Nancarrow says. “Hopefully you don’t abandon those cases. But you can’t just allow those cases not to be prosecuted. I don’t know what the answer is. If there had been no evidence left, he wouldn’t have been exonerated.” MacTaggart says he does not recall Waller’s case. “Some of those cases I’ll never forget, because there were moments of high drama,” MacTaggart says. “I can’t remember a thing about this case.” • James Lee Woodard was convicted in 1981 of murder and sentenced to life in prison. He was released on bond in 2008 after spending more than 27 years in prison. Woodard was prosecuted by Luther Laman, assisted by Rick Russell. Of all of the instances in which men have been freed from prison on the basis of DNA evidence, DA Watkins has reserved the harshest words for Woodard’s case. “After a careful review of the files in this case by our Conviction Integrity Unit, it is apparent that James Woodard did not have a fair trial in 1981,” Watkins said in April when announcing Woodard would be freed on bond after a DNA test excluded him from being the person who raped and murdered the victim. Crucial information that three men were with the victim shortly before her murder — two of them had previously been convicted of sexual assault — was not received by the defense before Woodard’s trial, according to a release from the Dallas County DA’s office. Laman and Russell each did not return two telephone calls seeking comment. • Gregory Wallis was convicted in 1989 of burglary of a habitation with intent to commit sexual assault and sentenced to 50 years in prison. He was exonerated in 2007. Wallis spent 18 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Wallis was prosecuted by Manny Alvarez, who later became judge of Dallas County Criminal District Court No. 5 and now is a criminal-defense solo. Alvarez remembers that Wallis had the misfortune to have an unusual tattoo that sent him to prison for 18 years. Alvarez says the victim in the case testified that a man with a tattoo of a woman with long, flowing hair broke into her apartment and sexually assaulted her. Alvarez says the attacker also smoked Marlboro Red cigarettes and left some of the same type of cigarette butts in the woman’s apartment. When Wallis was arrested, he was carrying a pack of Marlboro Red cigarettes, Alvarez says. But it was Wallis’ tattoo that likely convinced the jury. “I remember it was one of those things where everyone said that it was a unique tattoo,” Alvarez says. “Everyone bought it, and the jury believed it.” But DNA showed that Wallace didn’t commit the crime — a test result that surprised Alvarez. “Times were different back then,” Alvarez says. “If we put 12 people in a box, it was a conviction. No one ever lost cases back then. And there wasn’t a whole lot of scientific evidence that defense lawyers could use to poke holes in our cases.” While Wallis was in a courtroom holding cell after a DNA hearing exonerated him, Alvarez says he went in to visit Wallis to apologize. “I went down to the cell and talked to him,” Alvarez says. “He said, “Hey, you were just doing your job.’ It put me at ease a little bit.”
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