Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Freed after 29 years in prison for crime he did NOT commit

Wrongful convictions happen everywhere, but they seem to happen more often in Texas. The post following this one is about another innocent man imprisoned in Texas for a crime he didn't commit. You'd think Bible belt folks would be more averse to people bearing false witness against their neighbors.

Randolph Arledge, right, embraces his son, Chris Rodgers, center; at left is Innocence Project of Texas policy director Cory Session

Freed after 29 years in prison for crime he did NOT commit
Man wrongfully convicted of stabbing a woman to death is released after DNA reveals he wasn't the killer
12 February 2013

A 58-year-old Texan Randolph Arledge walked free Monday after serving years for a crime he didn't commit -- the repeated stabbing of a woman whose body was found on a dirt road in rural North Texas.

Arledge was sentenced to 99 years in prison in 1984 for killing Carolyn Armstrong.

But a state district judge in Corsicana, about 50 miles southeast of Dallas, agreed with prosecutors and Arledge's attorneys that he could no longer be considered guilty after new DNA tests tied someone else to the crime.

Judge James Lagomarsino agreed to release Arledge on bond while the process of overturning his conviction is pending. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals must accept Lagomarsino's recommendation for the conviction to be formally overturned, a process that is considered a formality.

Arledge wore shackles around his wrists and ankles at the start of the hearing, but was later taken into a back room by two deputies to have them removed.

When he returned, Arledge hugged his two children. His daughter was 4 years old and his son 7 when he was sent to prison.

'They suffered more than anybody,' Arledge told reporters afterward. He gestured to his daughter, Randa Machelle Arledge. 'She's always talking about, she wanted me to come pick her up from school. Now she's picking me up.' His children said they remained hopeful through the years, not doubting his innocence.

'Every time he came up for parole, it was broken, shattered hopes,' his daughter said.

Armstrong's body was found in August 1981 on a rural dirt road in Navarro County, according to a court filing by Arledge's attorneys. She had been stripped naked from the waist down and stabbed more than 40 times.

Her abandoned car was found miles away with several pieces of evidence, including a black hairnet on the left side of the driver's seat. Hair taken from that net was preserved for three decades.

In 2011, more advanced DNA testing linked samples from the hair net and elsewhere to someone else.

Navarro County District Attorney Lowell Thompson said authorities are searching for the person matched to the DNA and believe they know where he is. The case 'will stay open until we solve it,' he said in an interview...

Like many wrongfully convicted inmates, Arledge was sent to prison with the help of faulty eyewitness testimony. Two co-conspirators in an armed robbery testified at his trial that he had admitted to stabbing someone in Corsicana and that he had blood on his clothes and knife, according to the filing by Arledge's attorneys.

One of those witnesses has since admitted to lying about Arledge due to a personal dispute, the filing said.

Arledge became the 118th person in Texas state courts to have his conviction overturned, according to the University of Michigan's national registry of exonerations...

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