Texas Clears Three Men of Long-Ago Crime

     DALLAS (CN) – A Dallas man serving 99 years in state prison for a purse-snatching and two other men convicted of the crime are innocent, the Dallas County District Attorney’s office said.
     District Attorney Craig Watkins will ask state District Judge Lena Levario to grant the actual innocence claims of the three men today, Watkins said in a statement.
     Darryl Washington, Shakara Robertson and Marcus Smith were among a group of five men arrested and convicted of aggravated robbery for the 1994 aggravated assault.
     Washington was sentenced to 99 years in state prison; Smith and Robertson received probation. The other two defendants were juveniles – their cases were dismissed when prosecutors learned there was no identification evidence against them.
     Prosecutors say their office’s investigation corroborated four other men’s confessions to the crime; they cannot be charged due to the statue of limitations.
     “This wrongful conviction case is unique in comparison to the others that we have seen in Dallas County because we have three individuals who were wrongfully convicted of participating in the same criminal offense,” Watkins said in the statement.
     “There were actually five perpetrators involved in this crime and our Conviction Integrity Unit identified all five of the real perpetrators. Even though our laws prohibit us from prosecuting the actual perpetrators for an aggravated robbery that occurred 18 years ago, it is our duty to clear the names of the three men who served time for a crime they did not commit.”
     Though he had no prior convictions, Smith served one year in the county jail because he was unable to post bond. He pleaded no contest and completed five years probation.
     Washington was convicted of aggravated robbery in 1996 and sentenced to 99 years. He had a prior drug case that was pending and, and is in prison on that case.
     Robertson had no prior convictions. He pleaded guilty and received 10 years probation, after learning that Washington had been entenced 99 years. His probation was revoked and he was sent to prison for five years.

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