Criminal Justice

This Week in Innocence


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.

NEXT: California Supreme Court: Cell Phone Searches Don't Need a Warrant

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  1. 30 out of 50 years of a life wasted so that a prosecutor could show he was "tough on crime."

    If I beleived in hell, I would hope that Henry Wade had to spend an equal amount of time there that every innocent man he got convicted spent in prison.

  2. It's a good thing Wade is already dead. I'm pretty sure that if I spent 30 years in prison after being wrongly prosecuted by a clown like him the first thing I would do when I got out would be seek vengeance so epic it would make Kill Bill look like the Disney channel.

    1. You'd think you'd feel that way, but I bet that after that long you'd be so glad to get out that you wouldn't even consider doing something that could put you right back in.

      But it is still incredibly infuriating that someone can incorrectly put someone away--and it can be shown that he withheld evidence or other bad faith practices--and nothing is done to the prosecutor.

      1. Good point. I'd spend a year enjoying time with the family that had been stolen from me, then I would destroy the fucker. Oh, I'd try not to get caught, but what's a little more time in prison? The kids are already grown and barely know you, the wife is way past her sexual prime and has emotionally distanced herself, your career prospects are pretty damn limited. No big loss.

        You could kill yourself, I guess, but it seems fairly worthless. That said, it might be more productive to look for stories about other shitty DAs around the nation and kill them first, since there's less motive to connect you to the slayings.

        1. Last I checked, producing shoddy work wasn't a crime. These prosecutors suffer enough just living with the fact they put an innocent man away in their pursuit of criminal justice.

          1. These prosecutors suffer enough just living with the fact they put an innocent man away in their pursuit of criminal justice.

            That's a joke, right?

            Prosecutors like that couldn't give a fuck about destroying innocent lives. They care only about keeping their conviction numbers up.

            They're sociopaths.

  3. He was remarkably composed after his release. He just wanted to spend time with his wife and live normally. I hope he can recover from his incarceration but I wonder if it is possible after 30 years?

    1. His indescribable bliss is countered by the victim's family's whatever-feeling-they-must-be-feeling for just now having learned that Henry Wade prosecuted the wrong guy and the real killer got away.

      That Dallas County DA sounds like one of the good guys.

    2. It is possible. It requires a lot of support, but it definitely happens.

  4. This can only happen for crimes so old that the original prosecutors are no longer in the system to resist the eventual justice.

    1. Not entirely. Some of them have gone on to become judges.

      (Sorry. Didn't mean to make you vomit.)

  5. I believe Wade just go re-elected, too. Good news. I was skeptical when he was first elected (I lived in Dallas at the time), but he has proven out.

    Wade for Attorney General!

    1. You mean Watkins. Wade was the guy that sent innocent people to jail; Watkins was the guy that got them out.

      1. I nominate Watkns for USSC

      2. My bad. Watkins, not Wade.

        Comment otherwise stands.

    2. Henry Wade's been dead for nine years.

      1. That makes him a good DA, yes?

        1. You would think so, but even nine years later, his shit, in the form of those he's wrongly convicted, is still stinking.

      2. Anyone else living in Dallas want to go urinate on his grave?

    3. RC, I graciously accept your nomination. Get a shovel

      1. That was my joke, by the way. Read my blog if you want more from a comedic genius. Read my blog.

          1. BlogWhore 2.0 by Microsoft

            Repetition Error 1013

            incif immediately to prevent catastrophic failure

  6. Such occurrences are the reason why I advocate personal liability for all civil servants, along with mandatory liability insurance.

    Two or three fuck-ups by a civil servant would probably make him unemployable in his chosen profession and relegate him to a job more appropriate to his skill set: counting people getting off a bus or filling in un-needed ditches.

  7. Think of all the money the state could have saved if they had just executed him in 1979.

  8. Henry Wade: "Any prosecutor can convict a guilty man. But it takes someone really good to convict an innocent one."

    May you burn in Hell, you rotten rat bastard. You and your "100% conviction rating."

  9. The Dallas County DA was interviewed on the PBS Newshour on January 4. He seemed to be a really good guy (10th video from top).

  10. good for watkins. he is realizing that the role of a prosecutor is to seek JUSTICE. that means helping to exclude the innocent prior to trial (this is also a job cops do , but not often seen in court since when they exclude somebody, that person never gets charged and never goes to court) and not just seeking convictions. the goal of a prosecutor should be JUSTICE, not just getting the conviction

    this contrasts with defense attorneys. their job is to (within the law, theoretically) get their client off, whether guilty or not, and if not - get him the most minimal sentence. and to do that zealously.

    in the same way that media does not report dog bites man, but reports man bites dog, balko will rarely write stories on, but at least will reference (if it's relevant - like here) all those GOOD prosecutors who do their job well and right. naturally, he's reporting on bad cops/prosecutors and/or policies that enable them, not the good ones.

    i've worked with a LOT of prosecutors. and defense attorneys. imo, most of them are good. but the bad ones can be very very bad, as stories like this point out. unlike mae west, when they are bad, they are not better

    1. Are you that useless goat fucking pig who refuses to answer the question: Have you ever seen a fellow officer break the law and if you have, did you arrest them?

      1. *chirp churp cherp*

      2. ah yes. my favorite ad hom troll

        the answer is no.


        1. the answer is no.

          Then you're not really in law enforcement, are you? Not a LEO. What are you called when you only ticket and arrest the little people and let fellow gang members off? Harassment Officer? Yes, that sounds right. HO. Nice ring to it.

          (And if you're tempted to come back and say that you've never seen another officer break the law, don't even try. I've seen two coddled cops who should've gotten PIs in the last 3 weeks, and I almost never see one of you fuckers obeying traffic laws.)

  11. which one is which? is wade the good one?

  12. This case proves that the courts are not infallible and should be abolished. Better that all guilty men go free than one innocent man goes to prison.

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