Prosecutors Agree: Imprisoned Man is Innocent; Should be Freed

Steve Conder, the prosecutor in charge of post-conviction DNA motions for Tarrant County (TX), filed a motion yesterday that will put David Lee Wiggins, 48, a giant step closer to freedom. Wiggins was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl in 1988. He has always claimed innocence. Wiggins is expected to be freed on bail this Friday.

The Innocence Project worked on the case for years. Testing of partial sperm cell DNA from the girl’s clothing began in 2007. Results of more definitive testing performed in 2010 excluded Wiggins as the source two weeks ago, and indicated an unknown male.

As reported in this San Francisco Chronicle article, a misidentification prompted the wrongful conviction. The victim said Wiggins “looked familiar” in a photo array and then selected him from a live lineup. Researchers have shown that a memory can be contaminated by a subsequent memory in such a way that the memories blend and a victim may “see” a later-viewed person as part of the original memory. Enabling a victim, who is uncertain of a photo or live lineup selection, to then view a suspect a second time therefore can be problematic.

Speaking of the DNA results, Conder said, “…it tells you as a prosecutor, even though you have a judgment, you want to be open to the fact that there might be a problem with it.”

Thanks to Nina Morrison, staff attorney of the Innocence Project, who represented Wiggins, and to Steve Conder and Tarrant County prosecutors who cooperated with requests for DNA testing and are supporting the release of Wiggins and post-conviction justice in this case.

3 responses to “Prosecutors Agree: Imprisoned Man is Innocent; Should be Freed

  1. Docile Jim Brady – Columbus OH 43209

    “… Steve Conder and Tarrant County prosecutors … ”

    It is so refreshing to read and learn of prosecutors who believe they are doing their job be ensuring that justice is done in the courts .

    ☺ Please do not hold your breath awaiting my change of mind ☺

  2. Kudos to Nina Morrison and the Innocence Project, and extra kudos to Steve Conder, a prosecutor committed to justice, not just convictions.

  3. Pingback: Texas Man Not Bitter After Two Decades of Wrongful Imprisonment | Wrongful Convictions Blog

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