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After 24 years, DNA evidence clears man’s name in sex crime case

While the following story did not occur here in Pennsylvania, and though it focuses more on the divorce side of the story, there is a very important criminal defense angle in it that Pittsburgh residents will want to hear. In 1982, a man in Texas was embracing an exciting life. He had a wife, with a new child on the way. The happy couple had just started a family business. Everything was looking up. Around the same time, a wave of sexually-based crimes was committed in the area. The man was named a suspect and accused of the crimes. He professed his innocence; in fact, even his wife told officials that there was no way her husband could have committed the sex crimes. But none of it mattered — in two trials, the man was found guilty. He had little choice but to plead guilty to the crimes in a third trial, simply to avoid a life sentence. Over the next near quarter-century, the man toiled away in jail. After the first decade, he and his wife divorced (the strain of the sentence destroyed their marriage). The time in jail undoubtedly changed the man. However, after 24 years in jail, the man was given a lifeline. DNA evidence proved he was not guilty of the crimes, and he was unequivocally pardoned. He also received a $6 million compensation payment for his wrongful imprisonment. The two key elements here are the pressure a defendant feels to try and reduce his or her punishment by any means necessary (even if they are innocent), and the mistakes that the criminal justice system can make that forever changes someone’s life. Because of these two factors, it is imperative for any individual to vigorously defend the charges against him or her. Consult an attorney to craft the best defense possible. Source: Texas Tribune, “Exoneree faces ex-wife in compensation lawsuit,” Brandi Grissom, June 18, 2013

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