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Alternate suspect arrested in 1986 case
Posted: August 1, 2007 12:44 pm
Clay Chabot has been in prison for 21 years for a rape and murder he has always maintained he did not commit, and new DNA evidence implicates a man who testified against him at trial. On Tuesday, police returned the alternate suspect, Jerry Pabst, to Texas after arresting him Monday in Ohio. He will face murder charges. Prosecutors, however, say they are still investigating the case to determine whether the new evidence exonerates Chabot. Pabst said at trial that he had been in the house on the night of the murder but that Chabot alone had committed the crime. Chabot has always maintained that he was not there that night, and Pabst’s testimony – now proven false by DNA – was the primary evidence against him. There is no credible evidence even suggesting that Chabot was involved in the crime and the Innocence Project says his conviction should be vacated.
Innocence Project Staff Attorney Nina Morrison told the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram that this evidence should overturn Chabot’s conviction:
"For 21 years, Clay Chabot has maintained he is innocent and that Jerry Pabst committed this horrible crime. That is exactly what the new DNA evidence shows," Morrison said.
Read the full story here. (Star-Telegram, 08/01/07)
Tags: Clay Chabot
Update: Dallas DA investigates Chabot case
Posted: August 2, 2007 10:49 am
After Monday’s arrest of an alternate suspect in the murder for which Clay Chabot has already served 21 years in Texas prison, Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins said his office is considering how to proceed with the case. Thirteen people have been exonerated by DNA testing in Dallas County alone, and Watkins recently created a new Conviction Integrity Unit to examine cases like Chabot's.
"We want to make sure we've got the right characters in jail," Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said Wednesday. "This is not to say Mr. Chabot did not participate in this crime."Watch video coverage of the case. (WFAA, 08/01/07)
But the Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal organization that seeks to exonerate wrongly convicted people through DNA evidence, says Mr. Chabot is innocent and was convicted based on lies that Mr. Pabst told a jury.
"The entire case the jury heard 21 years ago rested on Gerald Pabst's story," said Nina Morrison, an attorney with the Innocence Project, which is representing Mr. Chabot. "Clay has always maintained he had nothing to do with the crime."
Read the full story here. (Dallas Morning News, 08/02/07)
Tags: Clay Chabot
Video interview: Developments in Dallas
Posted: August 3, 2007 2:31 pm
Watch a video interview with Mike Ware, the prosecutor who recently joined the Dallas District Attorney’s Office to lead the new Conviction Integrity Unit.
“It’s a historic time in Dallas,” Ware says. Watch the video here. (Fort-Worth Star-Telegram, 07/31/07)
And read more about recent developments in Dallas in yesterday’s blog post.
Tags: Clay Chabot
Deconstructing Dallas: The county with more DNA exonerations than any other
Posted: August 7, 2007 10:54 am
An in-depth investigation into the causes of the 13 Dallas County DNA exonerations so far turned up faulty eyewitnesses, overzealous prosecutors, and something positive – the possibility that these horrible injustices will lead to substantial reform. The article deconstructs the familiar factors that led to the 13 wrongful convictions and includes interviews with ex-prosecutors discussing the office’s push to convict in the 1980s and 1990s. Jeff Blackburn, the director of the Innocence Project of Texas, said the unique recipe of factors in Dallas make it the perfect place for reform.
"Dallas is ground zero for criminal justice change," says Blackburn "[Dallas County's] small enough to make it work but big enough to make a difference. The only thing that's rare about Dallas is we have this objective benchmark."Read about the 13 men exonerated by DNA testing in Dallas County, and read an update on the case of Clay Chabot, who has served 21 years for a Dallas County murder that another man is now charged with committing.
The benchmark is the result of two factors: The county's private lab, the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences, had to preserve the evidence to maintain its accreditation, Blackburn says. And in case an appeals court gave a convicted felon a new trial, the Dallas District Attorney's Office wanted to maintain evidence to try to convict the accused again.
Read the full story here. (Dallas Observer, 08/02/07)
Tags: Clay Chabot
Did a secret deal lead to a Dallas wrongful conviction?
Posted: August 22, 2007 12:48 pm
Clay Chabot has already served 21 years in prison for a rape and murder that he has always maintained he didn’t commit. The main evidence against Chabot at trial was the testimony of his brother-in-law, Gerald Pabst, who claimed that he was with Chabot and helped robbed the victim, but that Chabot raped and killed her. Pabst, who initially said he was nowhere near the victim’s home when the crime happened, ultimately testified that he was in another room at the victim’s house during the rape and murder. Chabot has always insisted that he had no motive to commit the crime and had nothing to do with it. But based on Pabst’s testimony, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
New DNA testing shows that semen recovered from the victim’s body after the crime came from Pabst – not from Chabot. No credible evidence links Chabot to the crime. Earlier this month, Pabst was arrested for capital murder in connection with the decades-old crime.
Pabst was initially charged with murder but that charge was dropped after he testified against Chabot. This week, one of Chabot’s former attorneys questioned whether Dallas prosecutors made a deal with Pabst to secure his testimony against Chabot:
Houston lawyer Randy Schaffer, who represented Mr. Chabot from 1989 to 1995, said that he has always believed there was a deal between the state and Mr. Pabst before he testified.Chabot was convicted on a Friday afternoon and paperwork seeking to dismiss the murder case against Pabst was started on the following Monday. He Pabst eventually pled guilty to stealing and pawning the victim's radio, and he was freed after serving only 30 days in jail.. If a deal was made with Pabst, the law would have required that defense attorneys be told.
"I figured the state made a deal with a killer because it gave them a witness," Mr. Schaffer said. "There was a culture of dishonesty [in the district attorney's office] that was as natural as getting up in the morning and brushing your teeth."
And while prosecutors prepare to try Pabst for murder, Chabot remains incarcerated, waiting for word on whether he will get a new trial. Innocence Project Staff Attorney Nina Morrison told the Dallas Morning News that Pabst’s testimony was the only evidence against Chabot:
"The new DNA testing shows Pabst was a perjurer who, at the very least, lied to the jury when he denied raping the victim and only got 30 days in jail after he testified against Clay," Ms. Morrison said. "No reasonable jury today would believe a word he says, and without him, there's no case against Clay Chabot."Read previous blog posts on the Chabot case.
Read the full story here.
Tags: Clay Chabot
DNA tests uncover secret deals in Dallas
Posted: September 28, 2007 3:41 pm
Innocence Project client Clay Chabot has already served 21 years in prison for a Dallas, Texas, rape and murder that he has always maintained he didn’t commit. The main witness against him was his brother-in-law, Gerald Pabst, who was arrested last month after DNA tests showed that he was involved in the crime and lied on the stand during Chabot’s trial. An article in today’s Dallas Observer investigates the secret dealings of the Dallas District Attorney’s office in the 1980s – including the unspoken agreement that allowed Pabst to lie on the stand and walk free.
Chabot remains in a Texas prison while (Dallas District Attorney) Craig Watkins decides if the case against him will be dismissed. Even if the case isn't dismissed, Chabot will get a new trial.
"What's important is now, regardless of what happened back then, we've arrested and charged Pabst and we intend to try him," says Mike Ware, special assistant in charge of conviction integrity, a post newly created by Watkins. "And if we make any deals in this case or any other case, they are going to be disclosed and they are going to be aboveboard."
Read the full story here. (Dallas Observer, 09/28/07)
Read previous blog posts about this case.
False testmony by incentivized informants was a major cause of dozens of the 208 wrongful convictions later overturned by DNA testing. Read more about this issue here.
Tags: Clay Chabot
Hearing tomorrow in Dallas case
Posted: October 18, 2007 5:34 pm
For 21 years, Clay Chabot has said he had nothing to do with the brutal 1986 murder for which he was convicted. Tomorrow, his conviction is finally expected to be thrown out by a Dallas judge, after DNA testing proved that a key prosecution witness lied on the stand to protect himself and convict Chabot.
The Innocence Project, which joined with the Dallas County Districty Attorney’s office in calling for Chabot’s conviction to be vacated, is seeking Chabot’s release on bond tomorrow.
Read the Innocence Project press release here.
Read previous blog posts on Chabot’s case.
Tags: Clay Chabot
Dispatch from Dallas: The waiting continues for Clay Chabot
Posted: October 19, 2007 4:11 pm
By: Vanessa Potkin, Innocence Project Staff Attorney
Yesterday I sat in a Dallas jail visiting room with Clay Chabot, discussing with him the likelihood that he would not be released after his hearing in a Dallas courtroom this morning. He has been waiting 21 years to prove his innocence, he said, and he would wait a little bit longer.
This morning a judge granted the joint request of the Innocence Project and the Dallas District Attorney’s office to throw out Clay’s conviction based on the new DNA evidence that Clay’s brother-in-law committed the crime. We had asked that Clay be released on bail to rejoin his family in Ohio, but that decision is pending until another hearing, which is set for next Friday.
After this morning’s hearing I spent time with Clay’s brother Mark and his longtime friend Anna, who have been waiting two decades for Clay to rejoin them at home. Clay’s two sisters and his 23-year-old son, who was an infant when he was arrested, are among the family members waiting for Clay in Ohio. Family and friends are the most important support system an exoneree can have, and when Clay is released he will be welcomed home by a wonderful group of people who have stood by him for a long time. We hope this day comes soon.
Dallas has had more wrongful convictions overturned by DNA testing than any other country in the nation. When he is finally freed and his name cleared, Clay will join 13 other Dallas exonerees. This is a reprehensible record, but the future for criminal justice in Dallas looks promising. Prosecutors have committed to reviewing hundreds of cases in which there may be the possibility of biological evidence to prove innocence – or confirm guilt. In January, the Dallas Police Department will begin participating in a major study of eyewitness identification practices that could reduce the number of misidentifications (11 of the 13 DNA exonerations in Dallas County were caused, at least in part, by misidentifications).
While Clay’s case is currently receiving a thorough review, we are hopeful that prosecutors and judges will do the right thing and set him free. The main evidence against him at trial was the testimony of his brother-in-law Jerry Pabst, who is now implicated by a DNA match in the case. Pabst testified at Chabot’s trial that they were at the victim’s house together and that Chabot committed the crime. The DNA evidence now proves that Pabst lied on the stand to protect himself, and there is not a shred of evidence indicating that Chabot was with him. Chabot has said for 21 years that he was asleep with his wife and infant son on the night of the murder.
Clay Chabot and his family and friends will remain strong as they wait for a final decision in his case. But for his sake, let’s hope his family is reunited soon.
Tags: Dispatches, Clay Chabot
Dispatch from Dallas: Eugene Henton is freed
Posted: October 26, 2007 3:40 pm
By Vanessa Potkin, Innocence Project Staff Attorney
I’m writing from Dallas, where I spent the morning in court with two men who are already free after being exonerated through DNA testing and two wrongfully convicted men who had hearings seeking their release from custody.
Eugene Ivory Henton walked out of the courtroom today a free man for the first time in more than a decade. Mr. Henton served nearly two years in prison in the 1980s for a sexual assault DNA now proves he didn’t commit and was later imprisoned again for unrelated charges and given harsh sentences reserved for repeat offenders.
After Mr. Henton and his attorneys secured the DNA testing that cleared him of the wrongful sexual assault conviction last year, he filed for the sentences on unrelated charges to be reconsidered in light of the fact that his contact with the criminal justice system was forever marred by the wrongful conviction. The Texas court system did the right thing by throwing out those harsh sentences – and today a judge resentenced Mr. Henton to time served. He walked out of the courtroom into the arms of his family. Technically, he was exonerated in 2006 (and is one of 13 Dallas County men exonerated by DNA testing since 2001), but today he is finally free.
In the courtroom with me this morning were Texas exonerees James Waller and James Giles. Mr. Waller and Mr. Giles were exonerated by DNA testing this year. The two of them knew each other while wrongfully incarcerated at the massive Coffield state prison and have rallied around others joining their “family of exonerees.”
In Mr. Chabot’s case we agree with the Dallas District Attorney’s office and the judge that his conviction should be overturned, and we’re waiting for Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, to rule on that request. Meanwhile, a hearing on bail in his case has been continued until next week. We will keep you updated here on the Innocence Blog as there are developments in the case.
Read about Clay Chabot’s case here.
Read about Eugene Ivory Henton’s case:
Dallas Morning News: Judge orders release of prisoner exonerated by DNA
Eugene Ivory Henton’s Innocence Project case profile
Tags: James Giles, Eugene Henton, James Waller, Clay Chabot
Dallas man's release expected next week
Posted: November 9, 2007 12:35 pm
At a hearing this morning in Dallas, a judge set bail for Clay Chabot, who was convicted of murder in 1986 based on the testimony of a man who is now implicated in the crime based on new DNA test results. The Innocence Project and the Dallas County District Attorney’s office agree that Chabot’s conviction should be thrown out, and the District Attorney’s office said today that it will not appeal the bail decision. The Innocence Project, which represents Chabot, said the $500,000 bail is being posted today and Chabot will be released from prison next week (once electronic monitoring, a condition of bail, is in place).
Last month, Judge Lana Myers agreed with the Innocence Project and the Dallas County District Attorney’s office that Chabot’s conviction should be vacated. The judge’s recommendation now goes to the state’s Court of Criminal Appeals, which has the ultimate authority to vacate convictions in such cases. In court papers, the District Attorney’s office has said that it is investigating whether to retry Chabot. Meanwhile, Jerry Pabst, who testified against Chabot at his trial more than 20 years ago, is now being held in custody in Dallas County after being indicted on capital murder charges based on DNA results showing that he lied in his testimony in order to hide his own guilt in the rape and murder. Without Pabst’s testimony (which is now proven to be false) there is no evidence that Chabot was involved in the crime in any way, the Innocence Project said.
Following is a statement from Innocence Project Staff Attorney Vanessa Potkin after this morning’s hearing:
“This is an important step forward in Clay Chabot’s two-decade-long fight to clear his name. We know that the District Attorney’s office is still investigating this case, and we believe that Clay Chabot will ultimately be vindicated and the true perpetrator will finally be brought to justice.”
Read more background on Chabot’s case.
Tags: Clay Chabot
Dallas man released on bail after DNA tests show he was wrongfully convicted
Posted: November 14, 2007 4:06 pm
Innocence Project client Clay Chabot, who was convicted of murder in 1986 based on the testimony of a man who is now implicated in the crime based on new DNA test results, was released from jail on bail this afternoon. While on bail, Chabot is living with his sister Carolyn, who moved to the Dallas area in recent days to be with him once he was released.
Last month, Judge Lana Myers agreed with the Innocence Project and the Dallas County District Attorney’s office that Chabot’s conviction should be vacated. The judge’s recommendation is now awaiting approval by the state’s Court of Criminal Appeals, which has the ultimate authority to vacate convictions in such cases. In court papers, the District Attorney’s office has said that it is still investigating whether to retry Chabot. Meanwhile, Jerry Pabst, who testified against Chabot at his trial more than 20 years ago, is now being held in custody in Dallas County after being indicted on capital murder charges based on DNA results showing that he lied in his testimony in order to hide his own guilt in the rape and murder. Without Pabst’s testimony (which is now proven to be false) there is no evidence that Chabot was involved in the crime in any way, the Innocence Project said.
“It has been a very hard 21 years, but I’m grateful that the truth has finally come out,” Chabot said this afternoon. “I am looking forward to spending time with my family and clearing my name once and for all.”
Read more background on Chabot’s case here.
Media coverage: New trial in '86 murder raises questions of a plea deal (Dallas Morning News, 08/11/07)
Tags: Clay Chabot
Texas judge calls for retrial for Clay Chabot due to prosecutorial misconduct
Posted: March 13, 2008 2:10 pm
A Dallas judge ruled yesterday that Innocence Project client Clay Chabot deserves a new trial in the 1986 murder for which he served 21 years in prison. Judge Mike Snipes wrote that prosecutor Janice Warder, who is currently running for Cooke County District Attorney, withheld key evidence of Chabot’s innocence from defense attorneys at the time of Chabot’s trial. The Dallas District Attorney and another judge have already said Chabot’s conviction should be tossed, but the Court of Criminal Appeals, Texas’s highest criminal court, asked for further hearings in Snipes’ court. Snipes’ ruling yesterday sends a recommendation to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which will make the final decision on a retrial.
Chabot was convicted of a murder in 1986, based on the testimony of his brother-in-law, Gerald Pabst. DNA testing has now shown that Pabst committed the crime and lied on the stand in his testimony against Chabot. Pabst is currently awaiting trial for the murder, and Chabot’s conviction was tossed out after the test results showed that the primary evidence against him – Pabst’s testimony – had been false. Chabot is on bond under house arrest while efforts to vacate his conviction continue.
Judge Snipes wrote "very strong findings that Mr. Chabot didn't get a fair trial the first time, and a very strong finding that he deserved to have his conviction overturned," said Jason Kreag, one of Mr. Chabot's attorneys.Dallas has seen more people exonerated by DNA testing than any other county in the nation. Read about the 14 Dallas exonerations here.
Read the full story here. (Dallas Morning News, 03/13/08)
Tags: Clay Chabot
DNA evidence leads to conviction of real perpetrator in Dallas case
Posted: September 25, 2008 2:20 pm
Jerry Pabst was convicted today of killing a Garland, Texas, woman at her home in 1986, based on DNA test results and other evidence uncovered during an Innocence Project investigation into the conviction of client Clay Chabot.
Chabot, an Innocence Project client, served 21 years in prison for the murder before he was released on bond last year based on the new DNA evidence pointing to Pabst. Charges are still pending against him in the case, and he is currently under house arrest. Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck issued a statement today on Pabst’s conviction:
“More than 22 years after her murder, this verdict finally brings justice for Galua Crosby and her family. We are glad that the DNA testing and investigation we did in Clay Chabot’s case helped identify and apprehend Jerry Pabst, and we commend the District Attorney’s office for finally bringing Pabst to justice. Clay Chabot fought for years for the DNA testing that led a judge to recommend overturning his conviction and resulted in Jerry Pabst’s arrest. With justice finally done, we hope Clay’s case can be resolved quickly.”
Read more about Chabot’s case here.
Tags: Clay Chabot