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    • Accepting and Using Climate Change
      A couple days ago I was thinking about the problem of surveillance states and I realized “this problem is likely to become less of one because of climate change.” And I started thinking about all the opportunities and good things climate change makes possible. My grieving was done. My pre-grieving, I suppose. I see grieving […]
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Freed at last


From SF Gate:

DNA clears Texas man who spent 30 years in prison

Cornelius Dupree Jr., 51, was paroled out of prison in July after 30 years behind bars for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. DNA test results that came back 10 days after his release excluded him as the person who raped and robbed a Dallas woman in 1979.

[…]

Dupree was charged in 1979 with raping and robbing a 26-year-old woman and sentenced in 1980 to 75 years in prison for aggravated robbery. He was never tried on the rape charge.

According to court documents, a 26-year-old woman and her male companion stopped at a Dallas liquor store in November 1979 to buy cigarettes and use a payphone. As they returned to their car, two men, at least one of whom was armed, forced their way into the vehicle and ordered them to drive. They also demanded money from the two victims.

The men eventually ordered the car to the side of the road and forced the male driver out of the car. The woman attempted to flee but was pulled back inside.

The perpetrators drove the woman to a nearby park, where they raped her at gunpoint. They debated killing her but eventually let her live, keeping her rabbit-fur coat and her driver’s license and warning her they would kill her if she reported the assault to police. The victim ran to the nearest highway and collapsed unconscious by the side of the road, where she was discovered.

About five days later, two men whose descriptions did not match Dupree tried to sell the rabbit-fur coat at a grocery store two miles from the liquor store, according to court documents. The car stolen from the victims was found abandoned in the parking lot.

Dupree and Massingill were arrested in December because they looked similar to two suspects being sought in another sexual assault and robbery. The 26-year-old woman picked both men out of a photo array, but her male companion did not identify either defendant in the same photo array.

This is one reason I oppose the death penalty. New evidence can free the wrongly imprisoned but it can’t bring the executed back to life.

DNA is great evidence, but it’s only available in a limited number of cases besides those involving sexual assaults. The flaws revealed in our criminal justice system however, exist in every type of case.

Unlike what you see in the CSI shows and its progeny, most police departments don’t have highly trained crime scene technicians and state of the art labs. Not only is some evidence lost or contaminated, some is never collected. Even the best cops make mistakes.

One of the most common factors in convictions overturned by DNA evidence has been wrongful eyewitness identification. Someone on another blog recently argued that was proof that women lie about rape but I disagree. It’s only proof that they picked the wrong guy(s) as the perpetrator(s.)

When you look at the number of people exonerated by DNA, you have to wonder how many more innocent people are behind bars because there is no DNA evidence to free them?