Monday, 10 August 2009

Texas Strikes Again

We found out this weekend that Earnest Sonnier spent 23 years in a Texas prison for a rape he didn’t commit:

State district Judge Michael McSpadden asked for an expedited release for Ernest Sonnier, 46, who was convicted of a 1985 sexual assault and sentenced to life in prison. The Innocence Project, a national organization working to exonerate wrongfully convicted people, began conducting new tests last year that cast doubt on his guilt, attorneys said. Sonnier was released on his own recognizance. He will wear a GPS monitoring device and be supervised as a condition of his release while attorneys move to have him officially exonerated.

Evidently, the new DNA test results from the victims clothing:

[Y]ielded no trace of Mr. Sonnier, the Harris County district attorney’s office said. Instead, it has implicated two other men. Both are felons and known associates. One is awaiting trial for a different rape.

Given this fact, Grits for Breakfast wonders “how many more victims were racked up in the years since Sonnier’s false conviction?”

Something else got my interest and that is the serology before Sonnier was even convicted. While Sonnier was convicted on a faulty witness identification, it appears that there was a pretty good indication before the trial that he was not the rapist:

Tests showed that semen stains on the woman’s jeans were blood type O, while Sonnier’s blood type is B.

This is another black spot in the woeful history of the Houston Police Crime Lab, where they were more interested in getting a conviction for prosecutors and their department than on protecting the public by getting the true perpetrators through sound science.

Sonnier has been released pending the prosecutors decision on a retrial. We hope that the prosecutor does the right thing and drops the charges soon.


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