The number of men exonerated in Dallas County in the last ten years ticked up to 32 this week, as two more men were cleared by DNA evidence.
State District Judge Susan Hawk exonerated James Curtis Williams and Raymond Jackson at a hearing Monday. The Dallas Observer‘s Leslie Minora, on hand for the hearing, wrote that Hawk “couldn’t find words strong enough for a suitable apology for what the men had faced.”
“I hope that you feel like justice was served for you today,” Judge Susan Hawk told the men at the hearing. “It’s heartbreaking and to say I’m sorry is not enough. But I hope you both have very full and happy lives. Congratulations.” Ten other members of the “ever-expanding brotherhood of Dallas County exonerees” were on hand for their hearing Monday, Minora reported.
According to the Associated Press, Jackson and Williams were convicted and received life sentences after faulty eyewitness account linked them to a November 1983 crime, where a woman was kidnapped from outside a Dallas bar, raped, shot, and left for dead. Both Jackson, who is 67, and Williams, who is 54, were recently paroled, but they continued to fight to clear their names.
DNA found in a rape kit and on the woman’s clothing was recently tested, implicating two other men in the crime, the AP reported. Those men, Frederick Anderson and Marion Doll Sayles, soon will be tried with attempted capital murder.
A declaration of “actual innocence” from a judge or a prosecutor, or a pardon from the governor, is necessary for wrongfully convicted inmates to collect some $80,000 for every year they spent behind bars.