After serving 23 years in prison for a rape DNA proved he didn’t commit, David Lee Wiggins, 48, walked out of prison and into freedom via courthouse doors in Fort Worth, Texas, yesterday with his brother, his sister, and Innocence Project attorney Nina Morrison. As has been the case with many other exonerees, he expressed no bitterness after his long ordeal.
As reported here on Monday, the Wiggins case was one of misidentification, a contributor in about 75 percent of DNA-proven wrongful convictions. He was falsely identified by the 14-year-old victim, who thought he looked familiar in a photo array and then identified him when he was presented to her a second time in a live lineup.
When DNA testing excluded Wiggins, Tarrant County Prosecutor Steve Conder filed a motion to overturn Wiggins’s conviction on Monday and State District Judge Louis Sturns approved the motion. He released Wiggins on personal bond. It’s expected that the Texas Court of Appeals will accept the judge’s ruling. The governor could also grant a pardon. Either will clear the way for likely state compensation. Texas leads the nation in the amount of compensation for the wrongfully convicted: $80,000 for each year served in prison.
As reported in The Statesman, About a dozen DNA-exonerated men were in the courtroom to support Wiggins. He was the second man exonerated in Tarrant County. Dallas County has been among the leading counties in the nation in the number of overturned convictions with more than 30.
Wiggins stressed that he is not bitter. “I am thankful to Jesus Christ,” he told supporters and the press. “He said he could move mountains, and surely this was a mountain.”
I was wrongfully chilly convicted of crimes that didn’t happen and I need help….it would be easy to overturn my convictions with the proof that I have and others and a simple investigation….Jack Gilvin 806-922-6363 or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org