DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas man who prosecutors say did not commit a 1990 rape for which he served 12 years in prison should be exonerated based on recent DNA testing he did not request, a judge recommended Friday.

The conviction of 57-year-old Michael Phillips should be vacated, Dallas County Criminal District Court Judge Gracie Lewis said. The matter now goes to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals; it was not immediately clear when the court would make a ruling.

Dallas County district attorney Craig Watkins sought the exoneration after DNA testing identified another man as the culprit in the rape of a 16-year-old girl at a motel where both men lived.

Watkins has an ongoing project of reviewing untested rape kits, even without defendants initiating the request. Should the appeals court decide in Phillips’ favor, it would be the 34th exoneration by Watkins’ Conviction Integrity Unit.

“This is a great day for Mr. Phillips but a terrible day for our justice system,” Watkins said Friday.

Phillips served 12 years in prison after entering a plea deal that he said his attorney advised him to take, fearing a jury would not side with a black man accused in the rape of a white girl who picked him out of a photo line-up. He was released in 2002 but his failure to register as a sex offender later landed him back in jail for six months. He now lives in a nursing home.

Phillips said during the hearing that he was appreciative.

“I never imagined I would live to see my name cleared,” Phillips, who suffers from sickle cell anemia and uses a wheelchair, said in a news release Thursday. “I always told everyone I was innocent and now people will finally believe me.”

Police and prosecutors have long aided some exonerations without having special conviction-review units, and many still do. But since Watkins started his Conviction Integrity Unit in 2007, several more prosecutors’ offices across the country have created such staff teams or expert panels to review wrongful-conviction claims.

In the Dallas County unit, DNA preserved by the Southwest Institute of Forensic Sciences in sexual assault kits is tested. There was no DNA from Phillips to compare to the profile from the semen in the rape kit, Watkins said in a news release Thursday. But when the semen was put into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, another person was identified as the perpetrator.

A district attorney’s office spokeswoman said the statute of limitations has expired on the crime and that the perpetrator who was identified remains free.

The district attorney’s office said his attorney at the time was Mike Morrow. When reached by The Associated Press on Thursday night, Morrow said he could not immediately recall the case from 24 years ago and had no immediate comment.

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4 thoughts on “Judge Says Texas Man Should Be Exonerated In Rape

  1. The truth about Marissa Alexandra that BAW won’t tell you:
    Yes, her husband had a history of domestic abuse but Ms. Alexander was also abusive and she had a temper. She had a year long restraining order against her husband, during that time she conceived and had a child with him. They got into an argument about texts to an ex of hers and accusations of who the real father of the baby was and there was shoving. Now then she bypassed two exits of the home and went into the garage (3rd exit). She told LE that the garage door was broken and she could not get out but when checked the door worked just fine. She retrieved a handgun from her car and returned back to the inside of the home. She claimed she fired a warning shot into the ceiling, she did not, the path of the bullet was at head level where her husband and 2 children were standing and the path can be traced as it went through the walls.
    Her husband left his home with his children and called the police and she locked herself inside the home…..she never called 911. Her story did not match the evidence. Her husband changed his story from the 911 call to try and protect her but changed back to the original version for the trial. His eldest son also testified at the trial.
    When she was out on bail she violated the terms set by bail (she was to have no contact with her husband) and again went to the home. She then assaulted her husband leaving him with a black eye. He, once again, was the one to call 911 and she never did and left the scene. When the police caught up to her they noticed no injuries on her and place her in handcuffs and into a car. Shortly afterwards she complained of her head hurting and a cut was seen on her head and she was transported to the hospital. It was suggested that she caused her own injury after being put into the police car to frame her husband. Because of the history of domestic violence, the prosecutor wanted to cut her a break and offered her 3 yrs and a lesser charge but Alexander took her chances on SYG and the jury. She lost on the SYG hearing and turned down her plea deal.
    Because she bypassed 2 first exits to leave the home and went out a 3rd door and retrieved a gun and went back to confront her ex, this is why she lost out on SYG. She was out of any danger but went back to continue the confrontation only this time with a gun. That is not standing your ground.
    If anything, Florida’s 10-20-Life law is what needs to be changed. Show a gun and you get 10 yrs, fire a gun and you get 20, kill someone and you get Life. These are firm sentences with no wiggle room or discretion left to the judge.

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