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DNA Tests Get Man Freed After 27 Years

By Chris V. Thangham     Jan 3, 2008 in Crime
A Dallas man wrongfully sent to prison in 1981 has been released after a DNA test cleared him. Charles Chatman was sent to prison for aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to 99 years.
Thanks to Innocence Project, Charles Chatman, 47, was released today after he was wrongly accused and sent to prison for 99 years. Dallas County holds evidences for a longer period compared to other states; the Innocence Project was able to force them to do a DNA testing of the evidence collected in 1981.
The DNA testing proved Chatman was innocent and the judge recommended overturning his 1981 aggravated sexual assault conviction.
His family of eight siblings was present and cheered for him when the judge announced his release.
Chatman told The Associated Press during his last night in jail Wednesday:
I'm bitter. I'm angry…But I'm not angry or bitter to the point where I want to hurt anyone or get revenge."
Chatman was 20 when the victim, who was in her 20s, picked him up from the lineup. The victim lived only five blocks away from Chatman and has been living at the same place for the past 13 years and never knew each other.
Chatman said he didn’t have front teeth at that time, so the victim could have easily known that it wasn’t him that raped her, but the victim chose him from the lineup.
Chatman applied for a DNA testing in 2004. All police had was a single swab from the victim -- if the tests were inconclusive, he would have had no other way to prove his innocence any more. But luckily that single sample was enough to prove his innocence. His lawyer,Michelle Moore said he took incredible risks by allowing that test.
He became the 15th inmate released based on DNA evidence since 2001 in Dallas County. Texas has the most cleared prisoners out of any state in the nation.
I hope they compensate Charles Chatman. The main portion of his life is lost by an incorrect conviction; no amount of money will replace that. We are seeing more cases like this, and it is hard to imagine how people can falsely accuse a person and act like the case is solved or think justice is done.
Isn’t falsely sending a person to a longer prison sentence a crime itself and be worthy of punishment as well?
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