August 17th, 2009
11:12 PM ET

Innocent man freed from prison after 23 years

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about Ernest Sonnier's case on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/17/art.vert.ernest.sonnier.jpg caption="Ernest Sonnier was sentenced to life but was released from prison after 23 years because DNA testing proved he was wrongfully convicted." width=292 height=320]

Gary Tuchman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Ernest Sonnier was 23 when he was arrested and charged with rape and kidnapping. He was taken in handcuffs from his Houston home and didn't leave prison for another 23 years.

A week and a half ago, at the age of 46, Sonnier was freed after essentially being told by prosecutors, sorry – but we now inform you that DNA evidence we've just gotten around to checking indicates you did not commit this crime.

And get this – when the DNA that was examined was compared with other specimens in police possession, it came up positive for two other men already in the system. Men who are felons, but are no longer in prison.

As you wonder whether or not authorities will arrest those other men, we can tell you the answer is no. It won't happen because the statute of limitations has expired. That's just some of the discouraging news about this case.

Also discouraging, is this: Ernest Sonnier is now the sixth person to be freed from prison after allegations of shoddy work from the same crime laboratory, which is run by the Houston police. Over the years, the lab has been accused of ineptitude, corruption, and has even suffered flooding and water leakage which led to the corruption of genetic materials.

Now, the District Attorney, who is relatively new, has pledged that all cases that involved DNA in Houston will be reviewed. That means hundreds of cases will be re-examined. This all raises two serious questions: how many innocent people are behind bars because of poor lab work, and how many guilty people are not behind bars where they deserve to be?

Ernest Sonnier was identified by his victim in court in 1986. Prosecutors said lab tests showed hair found in the victim's vehicle was consistent with his. Shortly after Sonnier's trial, DNA testing became routine.

The DNA from the hair and bodily fluids found in the car and on the victim has been available for years. But the lab's backlog was endless, and there was no mechanism for verification. A national group that tries to help the wrongly convicted, the Innocence Project, got involved in Sonnier's case, and the testing was completed.

Sonnier, who has no idea how to operate a cell phone and marvels over satellite TV, is now a free man.

He says he will forgive, but he can't forget.

Sonnier is staying at home with his grateful mother and father. He hugs great nieces and nephews he has never been allowed to touch.

He has not officially been exonerated. He had a criminal record before his arrest (which likely diminished any credibility he might have had with police and prosecutors.) He is now on supervised release.

So the district attorney and her investigators say they will spend weeks or months investigating his past. But unless they find out something new, Ernest Sonnier will officially be cleared. And the real criminals will continue to count their lucky stars that Sonnier took the rap for them.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment • Gary Tuchman
soundoff (265 Responses)
  1. CJSmith

    Well, I think that just sucks big time AGAIN. How many other innocent people are there in Texas prisons? Texas seems to hold the accused accountable for every single thing they are accused of without remorse. Thank God that there is a watchdog group out there that have sympathy for the innocent people who enter a life of hell behind bars. He has my sympathy, like others like him do. It is totally wrong to have to do time for a crime you don't commit. Shame on gung-ho police and law enforcement people all over the U.S. for wanting to judge a book by its cover. Sounds similar to the guy that was forced to pay child support payments way behind the time he was found out he was not the father. Shame Shame Shame on our Courts for being cruel to the innocent.

    August 17, 2009 at 9:24 pm |
  2. Mary Lanosa

    One is one too many. In this society of an "eye for an eye" there is a rush to get it done fast. One cannot hurry or "make a mistake" when testing DNA if the results are going to exhonorate or put someone away in prison and even on death row. This has become an all too common story. Men's lives stolen, years one can never get back, families destroyed and the question still remains. How much are we willing to do to close the case. I only hope that a close and precise investigation is done as this is NOT the first time this has happened. Let's just hope it never happens to you.

    August 17, 2009 at 8:39 pm |
  3. Mary Lanosa

    One is one too many. In this society of an "eye for an eye" there is a rush to get it done fast. One cannot hurry or "make a mistake" when testing DNA if the results are going to exhonorate or put someone away in prison and even on death row. This has become an all too common story. Men's lives stolen, years one can never get back, families destroyed and the question still remains. How much are we willing to do to close the case. I only hope that a close and precise investigation is done as this is NOT

    August 17, 2009 at 8:38 pm |
  4. Pop

    Why are they investigating his past? He's been wrongfully incarcerated for 23 YEARS!!!! What past!! And from following Project Innocence a little bit, histoey shaows that the government wont even have the decentcy to erasr that from his record. So more than likely he wont be able to get a job. So Sad.

    August 17, 2009 at 8:17 pm |
  5. anje

    How can that alleged victim sleep at night for picking the wrong person.

    August 17, 2009 at 8:09 pm |
  6. Rebecca

    Somebody's ass should be sued off and that man should be able to be set the rest of his life. Whoops sorry??!! SCUMBAGS!!! I like Dennis's comment, lock up the prosocuters and less than adequate law enforcement and make them accountable for their sloppy practice.

    August 17, 2009 at 7:49 pm |
  7. Jack Clevenger

    I would think after 23 years the state of Texas should have had enough time to have checked this person out so why should he be on supervised release he should be a FREE MAN with NO strings attached it may take the DA and her office another 23 years to check his past and he is still being told by the state what to do.

    August 17, 2009 at 7:34 pm |
  8. Sondra

    The HPD Crime Lab has been understaffed and underfunded for years. I worked there as my first job out of college in the early 80's. Lab staff were aware of problems with lack of proper training and modern equipment. The lab has been investigated and probed for years now over allegations of incompetence. The lab workers have been made into villains. What annoys me is that the politicians are quick to blame "the lab", but slow to provide funding or other solutions to the problems. My solution was to quit the job. Even if the lab staff all chose that solution, it would certainly not have solved the problems. And the resultant case backlog would be even worse than it is.

    It is also true that crime labs didn't conduct DNA analysis at that time because of lack of funding for equipment and training necessary to do so. What modern crime lab, with a huge backlog of current cases, is able to spend time routinely performing DNA analysis on older cases?

    What happened in Mr Sonnier's case is indeed horrifying. But let's not just point fingers of blame. Let's address the problem in a manner which could actually help, by demanding proper funding for crime labs (who are essentially the silent, yet important stepchildren of the justice system).

    August 17, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  9. Anita Lowery

    This is the unacceptable actions of people who do not do their jobs with care. This man has lost 23 years of his life because they claim the backlog was extensive. What I do not understand is how could they convict this man without this most important evidence. It's not about DNA accuracy, the DNA wasn't even tested, yet he was found guilty. The DA and the police officer who conducted this investigation new there was no concrete evidence but yet they followed threw on the convictions. I wonder how they are paying for this mistake not including others.

    August 17, 2009 at 6:40 pm |
  10. maxine

    i just would like to say sorry for the pain they put you threw nothing can bring back the years and pain my brother did 17 years in jail an we still dont no if he did it or not but a month after he was home he was rob and killed

    August 17, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  11. Bonnie

    There should be a punishment for allowing someone else to go to prison for something someone else did. We knew as soon as the first DNA test could proof someones innocents, there was going to be a chain reaction. I can feel it in my bones there are thousands of innocent people in prison right now as we speak. Bless this mess this poor guy has gotten himself in to, good luck and just remember it's the quality of time we have, not quantity, just make the best of what you have.
    Yea but, easy for me to say.

    August 17, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  12. Machater

    How can anyone defend the police and the D.A.'s office, or even think of this man as anything more than a victim. Bottomline the Police F***ed up, the D.A.'s office f***ed up and the forensics labs f***ed up. I can even the raped lady f***ed up for her false identification.

    August 17, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  13. tasha

    the article dosnt give the age of the victim but states that she identified him in court. If it was a child I understand the trauma and that he may have generally resembled( sadly the predjudce of being black) that she may have said it in fact was him, however if this is a grown women claiming that he raped her (and Im assuming may be grown since they said the hair was found in victims car) that she should be the one responsible for compensation how could you sit in court and say without a doubt thats the man if you where not completly sure I know a terrible thing happened but you let your real rapist go to do it again.You robbed this man the most valuable years of his life, there is no money to compensate that.Not to mention the shame of being accused of being such a person having to tell your famiily its a lie and hope they understand and help you.The police and lab definatly corrupt but this Woman ultimatly was the one to point the finger, shame on you no more words for that...

    August 17, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  14. Ebony

    I've done a research paper on injustices in the court system. I want to be a lawyer on day because of situations such as these. I stay in Jackson, MS and when I mentioned the court system being unfair to blacks and other races back in the day alot of people including my mentor, a black man, said that that was then and now it's much different. I think otherwise. Something tells me that racism still exist and many cases where innocent people have been found guilty still haven't been brought to justice. I believe Lyndon B. Johnson said it the best, " Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men's skin, emancipation will be a proclaimation but not a fact."

    August 17, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  15. nojabo

    Oh please! Stop the tar and feathering. None of you knows the true facts of this case. Maybe he's innocent, maybe he's not. If is truly innocent then he has a right to complain and be compensated. But to read this case as an indictment of the entire criminal justice system is ridiculous. The criminal justice system in this country handles hundreds of thousands of cases each year and the vast majority of them come out right. Nobody, police or prosecutor, wants to put an innocent man in jail. They do the best they can with the tools and witnesses they have. Just like jurors who make mistakes, sometimes they get it wrong. When all you crybabies can point to a system of any kind that is run by humans that does not make errors I will listen to your pitiful rants. In the meantime, I will expect the police and prosecutors who are slogging away in the trenches trying to protect your comfortable lifestyles to keep doing work that most of you don't have the guts to do.

    August 17, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  16. Bill Pelke

    Makes you wonder how many innocent people have been executed by the state of Texas that it is too late to release?

    August 17, 2009 at 5:56 pm |
  17. cgee

    Sorry that's not good enough. This is horrible, where is the compensation for lost income???. And also this why is he still being investigated????? What now these people have an axe to grind on this man's life! Right now he needs to be looking for lawyers to sue the hell out of them and the state!!!! This makes me disgusted about this justice system and the police work. The police need to stick to just arresting people, and leave to investigation work to the professionals and the evidence testing to an unattached crime lab.

    August 17, 2009 at 5:52 pm |
  18. J Brasca

    place all involved in jail for the rest of their lives!!!

    August 17, 2009 at 5:50 pm |
  19. EH

    JT: you are a moron! Do you have statics to support your claim that in " Dallas there have been numerous reversals and people released after being wrongly convicted……over half of them are already back in the slammer….." You are wrong! Dead wrong. Unfortunately, people like you keep innocent men in prison for 23 years. No one is saying he had a perfect past, it is irrelevant under the law. You do time for crimes you committ and are proven guilty of. He didn't commit the crime for which he has been accused of. It is simple, don't be stupid!

    August 17, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  20. Maria

    I know there isn't enough money in the world to make up 23 years of life taken away, but he should start looking for a lawyer.

    August 17, 2009 at 5:46 pm |
  21. Toni K

    Is anybody really surprised about this? I mean here we are talking about the quintessential DA – and I have yet to run into a DA that is actually ethical. They need to rise to the upper tiers of the legal profession, and the only way they can do that is to get convictions AT ANY COST !! Welcome to the U.S. legal system.

    August 17, 2009 at 5:45 pm |
  22. KMN

    In a system where Sheriff and Judges are elected and are politically influenced this will always happen. They do need to some things to get elected and one thing is to show how many criminals they sent to jail... And thats what the problem is. And mandatory sentences is mockery of justice and don't even start on prosecuting kids as adults .. Makes you wonder why we have characterization of Kids in system when we have a way to bypass the system

    August 17, 2009 at 5:43 pm |
  23. mike

    if the average citizen only had the slightest idea of how many people were actually in prison that were innocent they would be very surprised.the fact is that you are not innocent until proven guilty in this country.you are guilty until proven innocent and if you do not believe this then go watch a person with no money for a lawyer and see how different it is then somebody with a paid lawyer.it is a laug
    hing joke.it is also a shame.a crying heartfelt shame.

    August 17, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  24. bianca

    The several cases I have read about in this news site today involving the unjust and illegal incarceration of black men reveal the sentiment by which President Obama stated what he did about the Cambridge police and why Professor Gates was outraged. There has got to be zero tolerance for this type of legalized 'bully-ism'. Simply put, there are some systems in our country that need to be over-hauled and re-purposed....period.

    August 17, 2009 at 5:41 pm |
  25. Larry Most

    Instead of revamping the medial system how about revamping the judicial system? Say, if the person is convicted on a lone witness testimony only then are found innocent, (rape) put the plaintiff in prison for the same length of time. If a person is found guilty and genetic testing was available, then found innocent though the same testing later, the people involved are to be put in jail for the same length of time. Now to help the court system be quicker, instigate another level of court proceedings. This would be called the stupidity court. We've all heard stupid court hearings. Like spilling hot coffee in your lap. That would go before the stupidity court. If found to be stupid or the person is just after $$$$ then it would be thrown out and the person severely fined. Then made sterile so they couldn't breed more stupid people. Because stupid people shouldn't breed.

    August 17, 2009 at 5:41 pm |
  26. Sam

    Why would you put a man that was treated this way on supervised release. So you can look at his past???? How about this for his past. . . .After being wrongly convicted of a crime, this man has sat in the prison system for 23 years. Here ends his past.

    Adam Mania--He was 23 years old in Houston TX. . . .yeah he probably had a criminal record. That DOES NOT mean that he's going to continue to make mistakes. What a narrow minded pinhead you are.

    August 17, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  27. harold

    If they were executed then we would have saved all kinds of money and it would have been done and finished. After 23 years no would would have said anything.

    August 17, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  28. Rose from Muscoy, Calif

    JUSTICE IS BLIND, to those who can't understand it!

    August 17, 2009 at 5:34 pm |
  29. Annie Kate

    Just think how many times you get a lab result that is wrong; with DNA evidence the police should send it off to 2 labs to get results just to make sure that the results they get are reliable. It wouldn't have helped this man since his tests were run until recently but it would help make sure we get the right criminal on these crimes. I hope the government will help the man find a job and at least settle some cash on him for those 23 years he spent locked away for a crime he didn't commit.

    August 17, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  30. sommerbrez

    If this man was realeased for being innocent, why is it a supervised release. He has been supervised enough dont they think !!!

    August 17, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  31. Ravi

    @ wowwiepop:

    Under the scenario you described, the wrongly accused cannot sue the state.

    However, the issue has more to do with evidence being withheld/misused by the prosecution. For example, recently, a young man was exhonerated after being convicted of a murder. It turned out that the lead detective and the prosecution team for that case did not supply all their evidence to the defense, and disregarded testimony from their witnesses that did not fit their case. In that scenario, the wrongfully accused SHOULD have the right to sue, but I don't believe they can.

    In this case, it doesn't seem like anything was withheld. It appears that the prosecution followed proer procedures. Of course, questions will linger since the botched test results were produced by a police run lab. If anything, as Sonnier's defense, I would have pushed for verification of the lab results right after the initial conviction, or even during the trial itself.

    Ultimately, wherever the blame my lie, Sonnier is a free man. There is no sense in getting angry/upset over what happened, becuase it can easily consume him. Enjoy life, and let fate take care of whomever was responsible for wrongfully imprisoning him. As a 25 yr old, I can not imagine spending basically my entire life behind bars, for a crime I did not commit.

    August 17, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  32. kw

    Wrongful incarceration happens all the time, no matter the color or race! Our justice system can use an enema.

    August 17, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  33. OpenMind

    I read more and more of these type of cases. Innocent people found innocent so many years after the prosecution. You know one thing I never read about? Someone should go back and interview the 'victim'. The person whose 'eye witness' testimony placed this man (and many others) in prison for 23 years when he wasn't ever there. How do they feel? How do they sleep at night? I'd like to hear how they feel about taking 23 years of someone's life. Are they then going to adopt them? Support them? It's not only law enforcement. It's not only corrupted DNA that 'convicted this man. It's the eye witness. Let's hear from her! Where is she in all this dialog?

    August 17, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  34. troy

    First thing, why does it always end up about race? Don't get me wrong, it is absolutely horrible what this man has gone through. And second thing, what did the police department do wrong? They arrested the suspect at the time, they are not the ones to convict the man. It is a shame that if something happens to a man that happens to be black, it has to be about his race. I would hope that in 2009, people would be past it's a black thing or it's a white thing. We are all people and all americans. I hope this man can move past this and spend quality time with his family.

    August 17, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  35. James

    Sadly, this is very common in Texas.

    I have a family member who is serving a 45 year sentence in Texas for a crime that I do not believe he committed.

    TDCJ has treated us like animals for years. When you lose a loved one to TDCJ it is like a living death. You grieve but, the pain of it all never really goes away.

    Perhaps this new D.A. is some hope for those not yet accused. As for the people already wrongly convicted in Texas, there is little hope. TDCJ has no interest in hearing anything that conflicts with their view of the conviction. Ernest Sonnier was lucky. There are a lot of cases in Texas that are not based on DNA. If you are convicted on circumstantial evidence in Texas, there is nothing you can do to prove your innocence.

    I can appreciate that there are many rightfully convicted people in the TDCJ system, but there are also many people that do not belong there; far more than in any other state.

    August 17, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  36. HOUJR14

    I live in Houston and we just got rid of that racsit DA Chuck Rosenthal. The man had no heart or sense of justice. Find the nearest negro and throw him in jail was his doctrine! I am just as upset as to why the State of Texas and the US Department of Justice have not stepped in given the amount of overturned convictions in Houston and Dallas? I guess as long as black men are being falsely accused no one gives a sh_t!

    August 17, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  37. anna

    For all of you who think this guy might be guilty, because the victim ID him. Eyewitness testimony vs. DNA, sorry DNA is more accurate. The victim was mistaken, either the attacker looked similar (don't know if race was the issue) or her ID was tainted. It is seems more probable that the victim got the ID wrong (maybe due to PTSD). His DNA did not match, in this case it was not corrupted DNA (the article was referring to other cases who's DNA was messed up by water damage). His DNA did not match, two other men's DNA did, therefore, they did it not him. I am tired of seeing people who were falsely convicted, and at the very least they can never get their reputations back. Sorry cops and DA's to get it wrong, sometimes unintentionally or on purpose (they are human do wrong as well).

    August 17, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  38. Bruce

    The sad thing is that justice , healthcare ect ,are all tied to money money money ,the more money you have the better lawyers or doctors you get and the better chance you have... And if the DA or the cops want you then they can and will do as the like...

    I hope the best for Ernest Sonnier ,good luck sir....

    August 17, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  39. Andrew

    Who will help educate this innocent victim who lost 23 years of his life? Shouldn't society be obligated to send him to college for a four year degree paying everything and giving him a salary. No, this would not compensate for his 23 years of suffering, but it would give him a better chance at rebuilding his life. The City of Houston should step up to the plate and help him out. How many other cases are like this?

    August 17, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  40. mikael

    After reading the article i was thinking.....wow 23 years gone, how could this happen?.....after reading most of the comments posted by readers i realized it is because this country has the most racist group of human beings on the globe!!!!! I am as Black as night, but when a black man is arrested for a felony i feel no need to blame "whitey". In my "hood" i am constantly watching young black men sell drugs, pimp our daughters and steal to get ahead. They dont teach that in any school in this country. The "whiteys" around town get robbed, raped and beat because the dont belong there......anyone else remeber this is OUR country not Mine or Yours. Black kids cant all be Ballers and Rappers and not all old "whiteys" turn out like Madoff. Look in the mirror before you judge! Did you help your son with his homework today?, did you take your daughter to dance class? or did you sit around and blame the "Man" for your short comings. Everyone is born the same, we all have the ability to make/not make the right decisions to which will lead us down the righteous path. Those who always blame are the ones slowing down the progress this country has made in moving towards "we are created equal and will treat eachother as equals" Obama is president and i didnt vote him into office, Black or not does not make a politician........when i look in the mirror i am black! when i bleed it is RED just like white,black,latino!!!!!!! stop blaming the "Man" or "whitey" and do your part by teaching the youth there is no color that will make you more of a person than another.!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 17, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  41. PC in NJ

    Obviously, Xavier....

    August 17, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  42. sonya

    this is a response to the comments from wowwiepop- no it's not the job of the defense attorney to prove innocence...it's the PROSECUTOR'S job to PROVE GUILT. come on, know the judicial system if you're gonna make comments like that. And further more, no every case is not decided by a jury. some cases are still decided by an actual JUDGE! Oh my goddness! Some people still amaze me. If DNA is good enough evidence to convict, why isn't it good enough to set free the innocent without further adue? Leave this man alone & give him the chance to live.

    August 17, 2009 at 4:59 pm |
  43. Marty

    The US Justice System SUCKS!!!!!!!!

    August 17, 2009 at 4:59 pm |
  44. Adam Mania

    He had a criminal record before his arrest. So he probably would have been arrested for something else at some point anyway. Regardless, what a waste of life. I hope he can adjust to his new life and get a job.

    August 17, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  45. Steve

    For those who are paying attention, there is a bigger lesson to be learned here. Here is an example of the kinds of mistakes that can affect the innocent, inflicted by those IN POWER. And it's bigger than a 'black' man in a 'white' system. It's bigger than a Texas legal system. It's about those to whom we bestow great authority, great power, abusing or simply misusing what we have given them. Is it an automatic process: give them the power and they'll automatically abuse it? No. That kind of logic is too limited and linear to stand on its own. BUT, we ARE talking about human nature, the tendency to take the easy path, the less-challenging, (less politically hazzardous) path. It would be wise to consider this the next time we go to the polls. How much power are we willing to bestow? The answer lies in the question "how much personal freedom (perhaps, as in this case, literally) are we willing to risk losing?" It is a question that has a legitimate place in all of the current issues: the economy, the bailouts, TARP, health care reform,etc. The addage that 'with great power comes great responsibility' is more than just a catch phrase. Never forget that ours is a government OF the People, FOR the people, BY the people. Let's start exercising some personal responsibility, and stop taking the easy way out, the cop-out of passing the buck to folks who quite frankly haven't proven they're deserving of that kind of trust...and THAT, my friends, is as bi-partisan a statement as you're likely to hear...

    August 17, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  46. Remby

    No surprise here.

    Just another case of rush-through justice. The only thing that matters to the police is to make the arrest, the only thing that matters to the prosecutor is to get the conviction. Guilt / Innocence is a far second.

    To make matters worse, you have corrupt cops torturing confessions, eye-witness testimony (which is the most unreliable form of evidence) being the decider of cases because thats all there is, and the poor who can't afford "justice".

    Pay the poor bastard off in civil court.

    August 17, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  47. bb584

    Demand reform and demand that it include stiff prision sentences for false imprisonment, jihahist prosecutors, inept labs, and killer police. And abolish internal investigations and replace them with independent boards made up of cprivatge citizens. We need oversight of the people we employ. There is no other way.

    August 17, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  48. Anti-reverse-racism

    Many of these comments indicate that racism is well and thriving in the United States.

    Ace cries out "JUST ANOTHER BLACK MAN DONE WRONG BY THE SYSTEM" and kar says "how many white prople have been done like this." And they'll call ME racist for claiming that these two are themselves racist.

    Because you can't figure it out yourself, kar, let me explain it to you, and I'll try to use little words so that you can understand. I'm addressing you because I don't think Ace will understand no matter how little the words are.

    Part of the problem is that our nation's "news" hasn't been news in a long, long time. There's this thing called money, and people like it. A lot. So they do things that get them money. So when there are two stories that are nearly the same, and one of them features a white man being wronged, and the other features a [insert current favorite politically correct term yourself so I don't get called a racist] man being wronged, the "news" will run the story of the [politically correct term] man because that gets people stirred up and talking about it, which makes them visit web sites or buy papers or watch TV news shows that sell commercial time, to get more detail on the "outrage." You hear about the [politically correct term] man because that's who you're told about.

    Another part of the problem is that you, personally, ignore the stories about the "white man" who was treated exactly the same, maybe even worse, because he's just a white man and not a [politically correct term] man. Or did you miss the articles run just a few weeks ago about the white man wrongfully imprisoned for 16 years, but DNA evidence proved he was innocent. Even worse, 10 years after being wrongfully imprisoned, he had DNA testing completed which proved he was innocent, but the judge refused to look at the evidence because it was submitted a few days late. So he served an additional 6 YEARS after the backlogged DNA testing lab finally proved he was innocent. This was all over the news because Ms. Sotomayer, the new Supreme Court Justice (you may have heard of her because she isn't white), is the judge who refused to review the evidence. But your racist eyes and ears apparently didn't see or hear THAT piece of "news."

    This is NOT a case of white vs. [politically correct term]. This is a case of misjustice and injustice. What happened is a horrible tragedy that, as MANY postings here agree, show exactly why there should be no death penalty.

    This country would be much better off if people would stop trying to make every injustice into a race issue and instead tried to resolve the problems that these issue bring to light, such as the question by Curious wondering why we have laws where the punishment time period is longer than the statute of limitations for many crimes? Why is it that the length of sentence is supposed to be time served to atone for a crime, but after one has served that time their "criminal record" follows them forever, which means that in effect they are being punished for the rest of their lives?

    Why can't we focus on fixing things that are wrong instead of dwelling on prior generations' wrongs? If you get a hole in your wall, what do you do? Do you patch it up and make it so that no one can tell there ever was a hole, or do you keep picking at it and tearing more piecse away until you no longer have a wall? I'll fix my wall and invite people over. I have no interest in visiting your house.

    August 17, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  49. John Palliser

    How sad is this? To know another man, not much older than myself had the prime of his life taken away from him. I think of all I have seen and done over the past 23 years and my heart breaks to think of this poor man. I wouldn't give it up for any amount of money and I hope he gets paid for his time – it's priceless though, try and put a figure on that!

    (And people on here suggest maybe he is a criminal anyway and this is just the way the justince system is, mistakes swill happen? I feel sorry for America.)

    August 17, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  50. Pasquale Barletta

    All this once again from the great State of Texas which not only gave us the worst president in history but also put to death more people than the rest of the country combined. Why is this crime lab still in existence?
    I wonder how much the prosecutors make a year in Texas.

    August 17, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
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