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Monday, November 13, 2006

Wrongful conviction amounts to $450,000

This article appeared on the HoustonChronicle.com:

Wrongful conviction amounts to $450,000

By RENÉE C. LEE

Arthur Mumphrey, who spent 18 years in prison on a wrongful conviction, is keeping his day job as steel foreman even though he will soon be nearly a half-million dollars richer.

Mumphrey, released from prison Jan. 26 after new DNA test results cleared his name, has been awarded $452,082 before taxes in restitution from the state.

He recently got his first lump sum of $226,041 and will get another lump sum in the same amount in August 2007, according to the Texas Comptroller's Office.

He will have to report the compensation to the Internal Revenue Service, and tax officials will decide if and how much he will pay in taxes, said a comptroller official.

Mumphrey, who did not respond to a request for an interview, has been mum about his compensation. Not even his wife, Angela, or his attorney, Eric Davis, know what he plans to do with his money.

''That's his business," said Angela Mumphrey, who described her husband as a quiet ''homebody" since his release nine months ago.

A jury convicted Mumphrey of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in a wooded area of Conroe on Feb. 28, 1986, partly based on blood tests that could not rule him out as one of the two attackers.

A Montgomery County judge later ordered Mumphrey released from prison based on new test results using technology not available in the 1980s.
The tests proved he was not responsible for the attack.

Gov. Rick Perry signed a pardon based on innocence for Mumphrey on March 17, expunging the conviction from his record and making him eligible for compensation.


Busy on the job

Mumphrey received his first payment in August, but the windfall hasn't changed his priorities.

The Conroe native still spends most of his time working. His first job after his release was at a Houston glass company. The past seven months he has worked at a Houston steel company, where he was promoted to foreman last month, his wife said.

When he's not working 14 to 16 hours, six days a week, Mumphrey relaxes at his Houston home, watching football and basketball.

"On Sundays, he plays dominoes with my dad, and he talks on the phone with his sisters every weekend," Angela Mumphrey said.

Davis, who reopened the case in 2005, described Mumphrey as ''hardworking and industrious."

"He's a good success story in making the transition" from prison to the real world, Davis said.

Mumphrey gained his freedom thanks to the persistence of Davis, who spent months tracking down the original DNA in the case.

Davis found the evidence at the Texas Department of Public Safety's Houston crime lab, but when prosecutors inquired about the DNA, lab officials said they did not have it.

Stunned by the reversal, Davis kept digging until he reached a lab supervisor who found the samples stored in a refrigerator.

Prosecutors now think Mumphrey's younger brother, Charles, might be one of the attackers in the case.


Statute of limitations is up

Just days before Arthur Mumphrey was released, Charles Mumphrey, 35, confessed to an investigator for the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office during a jail interview, said Assistant District Attorney Marc Brumburger, who handles post-conviction and appeal cases.

No criminal charges will be filed against Charles Mumphrey because the statute of limitations has expired.

But his DNA has been submitted to the state crime lab to be compared with evidence from the case.

Brumburger said he has not received any information about the evidence since submitting it about nine months ago.

Charles Mumphrey, like his brother, is now free. He completed his one-year sentence for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and was released April 21, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice records.

He could not be reached for comment.

renee.lee@chron.com

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