DNA evidence proves inmate's innocence
A Dallas resident was released from prison after more than 27 years, for a crime he didn't commit. James Lee Woodard was cleared of conviction after DNA evidence proved his innocence of a murder he was charged with, according to CNN.
Woodard, who was wrongfully convicted in 1980 for the murder of his girlfriend, is the 18th person in Dallas to be cleared of his crime through DNA evidence, and one of 31 total in Texas. That is a national high.
His original conviction was based on testimony from two eyewitnesses, who said they saw Woodard dump the body in a nearby river. Since then, one of those witnesses has recanted, and the other is believed to be inaccurate, according to Natalie Roetzel, the executive director of the Innocence Project of Texas.
Woodard was cleared primarily because the original charges claimed the victim was raped and murdered. That means the prosecutor had to prove Woodard committed both crimes. DNA now shows Woodard did not rape the victim.
Innocence Project, a non-profit organization, works with defendants who can clearly prove their innocence through DNA testing. "I thank God for the existence of the Innocence Project," Woodard, 55, told the court. "Without that, I wouldn't be here today. I would be wasting away in prison."