Innocence Blog

Two Men Freed in Dallas, Another Seeks Justice in New York

Posted: October 23, 2009 6:10 pm



The innocent continue to walk out of prisons across the country, and Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins thinks today's exoneration of two men might be the "biggest yet" for his office.

Claude Simmons Jr. and Christopher Scott were freed today in Dallas after spending 12 years in prison for a murder that evidence now shows they didn't commit.

Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins, whose county has seen more DNA exonerations than any other in the country, said today's non-DNA exonerations may inspire other prosecutors' offices and police departments around the country to reopen questionable old convictions for investigation. "I expect this case will get a lot of attention, and I expect you'll see other police departments get involved in cases like this. We're going to lead the way in how to dispense justice," he told the Dallas Observer.

Meanwhile, a New York man has been granted a new trial in a 1977 murder that evidence shows he didn't commit. Dewey Bozella has been in prison for more than 25 years, and said he was overjoyed at the news of his new trial. "It was like a miracle had happened," he said. Bozella is represented by pro-bono attorneys at the firm WilmerHale. The Innocence Project represented Bozella until it was clear that evidence did not exist for DNA testing, at which point the organization reached out to WilmerHale to take on the case. Over the last two years, WilmerHale attorneys have uncovered substantial evidence that Bozella is innocent and that another man actually committed the crime.

Kenneth Ireland has been free for two months, since DNA testing proved him innocent of a 1986 Connecticut murder he didn't commit. Ireland, who was 18 when he was arrested and 39 when he was freed, spoke with Fox this week about adjusting to life outside of prison.

A man was exonerated and compensated after spending 27 years in a Chinese prison for a rape he says he didn't commit. He was retried and acquitted this year in Henan Province, and a court has now awarded him 1.02 million yuan (about $146,000) in compensation.

The Cameron Todd Willingham case continued to draw coverage and discussion this week. We posted yesterday on the letter from 400+ Texans to forensic commission chairman John Bradley. JR posted today at Daily Kos on the letter and other developments in the case. Randi Kaye covered the story this week for CNN's Anderson Cooper 360. Her latest report from Texas is set for tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

An L.A. Times editorial today said Gov. Rick Perry's decision to reconfigure the Forensic Science Commission "looks highly suspicious." Innocence Project Online Communications Manager Matt Kelley wrote about the case — and the outlook for the Forensic Science Commission — today on the American Constitution Society blog.

We reported earlier this week on the case of prosecutors subpoenaing student information from the Medill Innocence Project. The case continues to make news, with a report yesterday in Time magazine.And, finally, the most offbeat DNA story the week: An Australian man was charged with a robbery after blood recovered from a leech found at the crime scene matched his profile.