Black Man Freed After Long, Wrong Rape Sentence

Published February 11, 2008

Posted Oct. 11, 2007 – A Black man is freed after long, wrong rape sentence. Ronald Taylor, pictured above, walked out of the Houston County Jail Tuesday with a red, mesh gym bag, a paper sack and, most importantly, his dignity – 12 years after being convicted for a rape he never committed.

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"It hasn't really sunk in. I'm just glad to see my family," he said, hugging family members. "I don't have grudges. "What good would that do me?"

With the persistence of his fiancée, Jeannette Brown, and attorneys, who questioned the lab’s faulty DNA analysis procedures, Taylor was released 48 years earlier than his sentence would have permitted. A half-decade ago, the city hired a former U.S. Justice Department inspector who found hundreds of "serious and pervasive" errors in forensic cases handled by the lab. 

Taylor is the third inmate to be released due to problems with the Houston Police Department’s crime lab.

In 1995, a rape victim picked Taylor out of a lineup but said at the time that she had only gotten a quick peek at her rapist. During the trial, analysts from the Houston lab testified that there were no body fluids on the victim’s sheet, but the Innocence Project paid to have another lab retest it. The second lab found semen from a man already in prison.

In court Tuesday, Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal apologized to Taylor, now 47. He also visited City Hall, where he received another round of apologies. He told the members to make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody else.

"They don't have the finances,” he said. “They don't have nobody to help them," he said. "I think something needs to be done about that."

How do you compensate somebody who’s been imprisoned wrongly for so long? Should the prosecutor be tried too?  Click "Discuss Now," to the right, to post your comment.

Written by BET-Staff

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