DNA test frees Texas inmate - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

DNA test frees Texas inmate

Dallas_A man who contended throughout his 26 years in prison that he never raped a woman who lived five houses down from him was freed Thursday after a judge recommended overturning his conviction.

Charles Chatman, 47, was released on his recognizance as several of his eight siblings cheered. He was freed on the basis of new DNA testing that lawyers say proves his innocence and adds to Dallas County's nationally unmatched number of wrongfully convicted inmates.

"I'm bitter. I'm angry," Chatman told The Associated Press during his last night in jail Wednesday. "But I'm not angry or bitter to the point where I want to hurt anyone or get revenge."

He became the 15th inmate from Dallas County since 2001 to be freed by DNA testing.

Dallas has freed more inmates after DNA testing than any other county nationwide, said Natalie Roetzel of the Innocence Project of Texas. Texas leads the country in prisoners freed by DNA testing, with at least 30 wrongfully convicted inmates since 2001.

Mike Ware, who heads the Conviction Integrity Unit in the Dallas County District Attorney's office, said he expects that number to increase.

One of the biggest reasons for the large number of exonerations in Texas is the crime lab used by Dallas County, which accounts for about half the state's DNA cases. Unlike many jurisdictions, the lab used by police and prosecutors retains biological evidence, meaning DNA testing is a viable option for decades-old crimes.

District Attorney Craig Watkins also attributes the exonerations to a past culture of overly aggressive prosecutors seeking convictions at any cost. Watkins has started a program in which law students, supervised by the Innocence Project of Texas, are reviewing about 450 cases in which convicts have requested DNA testing.

Chatman was 20 when the victim, a young woman in her 20s, picked him from a lineup. Chatman said he lived five houses down from the victim for 13 years but never knew her. At the time the woman was assaulted, Chatman said he didn't have any front teeth; he had been certain that feature would set him apart from the real assailant.

"I'm not sure why he ended up on that photo spread to begin with," Ware said.

Chatman, who was convicted of aggravated sexual assault in 1981 and sentenced to 99 years in prison, said his faith kept him from giving up.

___

Associated Press writer Paul J. Weber contributed to this report.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • SpaceX launches 10 satellites from California air base

    SpaceX launches 10 satellites from California air base

    Sunday, June 25 2017 11:52 AM EDT2017-06-25 15:52:28 GMT
    Monday, June 26 2017 11:26 AM EDT2017-06-26 15:26:25 GMT

    SpaceX is going for a weekend double-header with a planned launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, just two days after a successful satellite launch from Florida.

    SpaceX is going for a weekend double-header with a planned launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, just two days after a successful satellite launch from Florida.

  • Supreme Court takes on new clash of gay rights, religion

    Supreme Court takes on new clash of gay rights, religion

    Monday, June 26 2017 9:42 AM EDT2017-06-26 13:42:45 GMT
    Monday, June 26 2017 11:26 AM EDT2017-06-26 15:26:09 GMT

    The Supreme Court is taking on a new clash between gay rights and religion in a case about a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

    The Supreme Court is taking on a new clash between gay rights and religion in a case about a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

  • Conservative GOP senator hits party leaders on health bill

    Conservative GOP senator hits party leaders on health bill

    Monday, June 26 2017 3:02 AM EDT2017-06-26 07:02:42 GMT
    Monday, June 26 2017 11:26 AM EDT2017-06-26 15:26:07 GMT

    So far, five Republican senators are expressing opposition to the Senate GOP plan that would scuttle much of former President Barack Obama's health law, as they await a key analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    So far, five Republican senators are expressing opposition to the Senate GOP plan that would scuttle much of former President Barack Obama's health law, as they await a key analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Powered by Frankly