innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Friday, November 03, 2006

DNA Clears Man in Rape, Judge Rules

This article appeared in the New York Times on November 1, 2006:

DNA Clears Man in Rape, Judge Rules

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

DALLAS, Oct. 31 (AP) — A man convicted of rape 25 years ago walked out of a courtroom a free man Tuesday after a judge ruled that he would probably not have been found guilty if DNA testing had been available.

“My faith was tested, and I won,” said the man, Larry Fuller, 57, who trembled slightly as he left the courthouse carrying two worn Bibles.

After the ruling by Judge Lana McDaniel of District Court, supporters of Mr. Fuller broke out in applause. The assistant district attorney, John Rolater, who was not involved in the original case, apologized to Mr. Fuller.

“Thank you,” Mr. Fuller said. “Apology accepted.”

Mr. Fuller was sentenced to 50 years after jurors convicted him of aggravated rape in 1981, finding that he had broken into a woman’s apartment and raped her, using a butcher knife to cut her thumb, neck and back as she struggled.

The victim looked at two photo lineups, both of which included Mr. Fuller. She picked him in the second one, even though he was bearded in the picture and she had said her attacker had no facial hair.

At the time, Mr. Fuller was a 32-year-old Vietnam veteran who had received the Air Medal for taking care of his crew. He was pursuing a career in art and had worked as a driver and warehouse employee.

Mr. Fuller had no convictions for sexual assault, but he had pleaded guilty to robbing a convenience store in 1975 and had been sentenced to three years in prison. He served 18 years on the rape conviction. He was released in 1999 but sent back last year for a parole violation.
All the while, Mr. Fuller professed his innocence in the rape case and tried to prove it through DNA. This year, the Dallas County district attorney’s office agreed to allow the additional testing.

Mr. Fuller’s subsequent exoneration makes him the 10th Dallas County man in five years cleared by DNA testing. More than 20 men have been exonerated in Texas by such testing, according to the Innocence Project. Nationwide, 185 people have been cleared through DNA after their convictions, according to the Innocence Project. In most cases, testimony from mistaken witness identification led to the wrongful conviction, the group said.

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