Criminal Justice

This Week in Innocence

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This week, Cornelius Dupree Jr. became the 21st man in Dallas County, Texas to be exonerated after doing time for rape or murder.

DNA test results that came back barely a week after Cornelius Dupree Jr. was paroled in July excluded him as the person who attacked a Dallas woman in 1979, prosecutors said Monday. Dupree was just 20 when he was sentenced to 75 years in prison in 1980.

Now 51, he has spent more time wrongly imprisoned than any DNA exoneree in Texas, which has freed 41 wrongly convicted inmates through DNA since 2001 — more than any other state.

"Our Conviction Integrity Unit thoroughly reinvestigated this case, tested the biological evidence and based on the results, concluded Cornelius Dupree did not commit this crime," Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said.

Dupree is expected to have his aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon conviction overturned Tuesday at an exoneration hearing in a Dallas court.

Dallas County itself actually has had more exonerations than all but a handful of states—the product of the long reign of notorious prosecutor Henry Wade, a fortuitous accident that preserved biological evidence going back to the late 1970s, and, probably most importantly, the election of Watkins, a DA who has made it a priority to look through old cases for possible mistakes. My interview with Watkins here.