Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Texas' latest DNA exoneration implicates Houston crime lab

The Houston Chronicle reports on Texas' latest DNA exoneration, this one stemming from a mistaken eyewitness and faulty forensics from the Houston crime lab:

A Houston man freed last year after spending 23 years in prison for a rape he did not commit cleared another hurdle Tuesday in his quest to be declared “actually innocent.”

DNA test results released in court Tuesday show that Ernest Sonnier, 47, was not involved in a second rape, which ended in a murder for which he was a suspect in 1985, said Alba Morales, the Innocence Project staff attorney handling the case. She said the test excluded Sonnier from being involved.

In the rape for which he was convicted, DNA testing over the past two years implicated two convicted felons as the perpetrators of the 1985 crime, Morales said.

Sonnier was released last Aug. 6 on a personal recognizance bond that included travel restrictions, including wearing an ankle monitor. State District Judge Michael McSpadden ruled Tuesday that Sonnier can travel freely and no longer must wear the monitor.

For more background see the Justice Project's report on Sonnier's case.

Via The Defense Rests.


Anonymous said...

23 years in prison. And yet, you have people who will come on here and say the system is working fine and anyone who is wrongly convicted probabaly deserved it anyway. Did this guy deserve to lose 23 years of his life for something he didn't do?

Anonymous said...

Who was the DA here in Houston 23 years ago? It wouldn't happen to have been Johnny Holmes, would it? According to the circle-jerking ADA's over on Murray Newman's blog, he was perfect and there were no problems while he was in charge. But 11:08 is right, they'll blame someone else, if anyone. The system is perfect, no need to mess with it, according to those yay-hoos. Especially the lead circle-jerker, that Black Ink loser.

Anonymous said...

For some cops' perspectives - and concern - regarding the exoneration, see the Harris County Sheriff's Office unofficial venting site.

Cracks me up! :~)

Anonymous said...

Well why don't we just throw open the doors to the pen and just let them all out until we can be sure that we're guaranteed to a scientific, absolute certainty that every one of them is guilty? I'm sure society would be okay with that. I wonder, 11:08 and 1:24 just what level of proof would satisfy you in locking someone up. We can't rely on eyewitness testimony (too man errors). We can't rely on confessions (too many false or coerced confessions). We can't rely on DNA or fingerprints (too unreliable, easily contaminated, etc.). Video and photographic evidence can be altered or manipulated. So just what do y'all propose we do to guarantee that no innocent person is ever, EVER convicted? Just quit arresting and prosecuting people?

Anonymous said...

3:03, is your suggestion that we do nothing. That when problems with the system are exposed we just bury our heads in sand and say, "well, since the system will never be perfect we shouldn't make any effort to improve it". Come on, there is a lot of ground between the current state of the system and just throwing open the doors and letting everyone out.

How about insisting on stringent standards for labs, labs that are independent from law enforcement putting procedures in place to prevent bias such as limiting interaction between officers and lab personnel, and stringent oversight? How about changes in the criminal justice system so that it is not so tilted in favor of the prosecution? How about mandating that proper procedures be followed in lineups? How about prosecuting cops who commit perjury and prosecutors who withhold evidence?

There are many, many, many things that can and should be done short of throwing the doors open and letting all the prisoners out. But, those who feel they must protect the system at any costs will fight any step to make the system better.

3:03, what if it were you that lost 23 years of your life to a broken, incompetent, and often corrupt system? What would you say then? Don't think it could happen to you? There but by the grace of God go I.

R. Shackleford said...

This is a travesty. Anyone who doesn't become angry when reading this man's treatment at the hands of the state is either a sociopath or works for the system...I'm looking at YOU 3:03. I can only hope you yourself wind up on the wrong end of the 'justice' stick someday. I reckon you'll change your tune pdq when it's your scruffy ass on the line.

TDCJEX said...

Anon 3:16 and R Shackleford Have it right . There is lots of room for improvement If not a complete over haul . We should be doing all we can to insure the system works fairly .We should not only improve it but work to making sure those who are in the system both belong there and belong doing the time they are doing. While costly the alternative is far more costly . To say well to bad it is going ot cost to much is repulsive you cannot place a price tag on being in prison . If your excuse is thas t I we cannot be 100 % sure that is sickening . Of curse we cannot but I would rather er in favor of the accused than the state . That was he original intent for all you “ Scalia Thomas originalist” out there

If anonn 3:01 thinks that money is a reason to keep people in prison wrongly he is either a sociopath a who lacks any human emotion ,works for the system or both which is a frightening thought .He could just be a wingnut troll say stupid things to be annoying . If he/she realy believes it I have an idea

Sure few guilty might go free but that is not are a reason to keep those who do not belong in pirson there or maybe we need to completely overhaul the system it is clearly broken beyond repair .I can think of lots of things we waste billions on that we could spend on reform our justice system so it is truly a justice system not a revenge system

Anon 3:01
I have a proposition . I would like you to take my gals place . She should not be in prison but is . I am having a hell of time helping her . Now If you would be willing to say : hey I'll take her place so every one is happy we have some on in prison the persecutor/ prosecutor gets to keep his false conviction and his dirty secretes safe for now . You get to experience what you think is a great thing first hand and my gal is not in prison. Not perfect but hey in your world it is fine as long as some one is locked up right and off course you wont complain because you must have done something that is a felony . With the thousands to choose from how can you not have committed one unless you live in total isolation.
And yes there is a point to this but I bet 3:01 one does not get it . Though it is right in the post

Anon 3:01 is just lucky he has not been caught yet or maybe he or she has and when the brown stuff hits the rotating circular blades he or she is going to wonder why all their tuff on crime buddies have abandoned him / her

Anonymous said...

People, please get this book and read it, "Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire" by Robert Perkinson. The same book TDC officials are refusing to allow in the system. From this you will know all that you need to know about this state's justice system.

Anonymous said...

"DNA test results released in court Tuesday show that Ernest Sonnier, 47, was not involved in a second rape" What about the first one?