Calgary Herald

Wrongfully convicted trio exonerated in 1994 robbery


Three men convicted of purse snatching — one of whom was sentenced to 99 years in prison — were exonerated Friday in Dallas. They are the latest examples of men who have been wrongly convicted of crimes in Texas.

Darryl Washington, Marcus Lashun Smith and Shakara Robertson were arrested in November 1994 and charged with aggravated robbery.

The victim could not identify them, but witnesses who chased the suspects claimed the trio was responsibl­e.

As a result, a jury convicted Washington, who received the 99-year sentence, while Smith and Robertson accepted plea deals and were sentenced to probation.

Dallas district attorney Craig Watkins, who recently called for a review of capital punishment in Texas after starting a conviction integrity unit to investigat­e wrongful conviction­s, recommende­d exoneratin­g all three men, citing the faulty witness identifica­tions and evidence prosecutor­s failed to turn over to defence attorneys.

At the courthouse, Watkins, the first black district attorney elected in Texas, called for a nationwide discussion about race and justice after seeing too many exonerees who, like Friday’s trio, are black.

“Today was a breaking point for me,” Watkins told the Los Angeles Times.

“My patience is worn thin. We have a responsibi­lity, and that’s to seek justice.”

After the hearing, Washington spoke with reporters about his mixed emotions.

“I’ve got butterflie­s in my stomach. I’m trying to keep everything together,” he said.

“It’s been a long time. Justice is finally served.”

Washington and Robertson were not released because they are serving time for other crimes.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada