DNA clears US man after 30 years in jail

January 04, 2011



US prosecutors have declared a Texas man innocent of a rape and robbery that put him in prison for 30 years, after DNA test results exonerated him.

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 today.

Mr 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 other DNA exoneree in Texas, which has freed 41 wrongly convicted inmates through DNA since 2001.

"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.

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

The DNA testing also excluded a second defendant, Anthony Massingill, who was subsequently convicted in another sexual assault case and sentenced to life in prison.

Massingill remains in prison but maintains his innocence. DNA testing in that second case is ongoing.

Mr Dupree was charged in 1979 with raping and robbing a 26-year-old woman and sentenced in 1980 to 75 years in prison for aggravated robbery. He was never tried on the rape charge.

Mr Dupree and Massingill were arrested in December because they looked similar to two suspects being sought in another sexual assault and robbery.

The 26-year-old woman picked both men out of a selection of photos.

Mr Dupree was convicted and spent the next three decades appealing. The Court of Criminal Appeals turned him down three times.

The Innocence Project, which took on his case in 2006, obtained DNA testing last year on biological evidence taken from a vaginal swab.

In July, shortly after Mr Dupree's release, the test results cleared Mr Dupree and Massingill.

The hearing is happening now because authorities needed additional testing to confirm that the 30-year-old biological material was a DNA match to the victim.