January 5, 2011 in Nation/World

Texas court exonerates man after 30-year term

Jennifer Emily Dallas Morning News
Associated Press photo

Cornelius Dupree Jr. raises his hands in celebration with his lawyer Nina Morrison, left, and attorney Barry Scheck in Dallas on Tuesday. Dupree served 30 years for rape and robbery before being exonerated by DNA evidence.
(Full-size photo)


 Under Texas compensation laws for the wrongly imprisoned, Cornelius Dupree Jr. is eligible for $80,000 for each year he was behind bars, plus a lifetime annuity. He could receive $2.4 million in a lump sum that is not subject to federal income tax.

 The compensation law was passed in 2009 by the Texas Legislature after dozens of wrongly convicted men were released from prison. Texas has freed 41 wrongly convicted inmates through DNA since 2001.

Associated Press

DALLAS – A parolee who served more than 30 years for a crime he didn’t commit was exonerated Tuesday in a Dallas courtroom.

“You’re free to go,” state District Judge Don Adams told Cornelius Dupree Jr., one of two men wrongly convicted in a 1979 abduction, robbery and rape in Dallas.

Dupree, who has been on parole since July, served more prison time than any other Texas inmate cleared through DNA testing.

“It’s a joy to be free again,” Dupree said during the hearing.

After the hearing, the 51-year-old stood holding hands with his wife as he answered questions from reporters. He said he was having mixed emotions about the day.

“I feel that words won’t make up for what I lost,” said Dupree, whose parents died while he was in prison.

Dupree got married the day after his release this summer. He and his wife, who declined to comment, met 20 years ago through a mutual friend while he was in prison.

Dupree, Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins and the cofounder of the Innocence Project in New York, Barry Scheck, used the occasion to stump for changes in the upcoming Texas legislative session.

Of the 21 DNA exonerations in Dallas County, all but one involved faulty eyewitness identification.

Dupree and Anthony Ray Massingill, who was also cleared through DNA evidence, were accused in a Nov. 23, 1979, attack on a 26-year-old woman and her male friend. The robbers carjacked the victims and later ordered the man from the car. They then raped the woman at gunpoint before shoving her out of the vehicle, as well.

The rape victim wrongly identified Dupree and Massingill in a photo lineup. The male victim could not pick out either man. At trial, both victims identified Dupree as one of the men who abducted them.

Massingill, 49, will remain behind bars while authorities search for evidence to test in a second rape for which he is serving a life sentence.

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