AUSTIN (KXAN) – Travis County District Attorney José Garza announced this week that his office would dismiss a case of a man who was accused of attacking a woman with a brick in a downtown office building over a decade ago.
The man was accused of the offense in Feb. 2011 and was indicted by a Travis County Grand Jury shortly after. One year later, a Travis County Jury convicted the accused of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced him to 60 years in prison. However, years later, Travis county officials determined that DNA evidence used to convict the man was “inconclusive” and “unreliable.”
On Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the conviction.
“The process to review cases stemming from the APD DNA lab involved stakeholders from the city, the county, forensic experts, the defense and the prosecution. We believe the victim, in this case, was assaulted in a parking garage; however, due to the unreliability of the DNA evidence presented at trial, we cannot prove who committed the assault,” Garza said.
“Our hearts go out to the family of the victim who have had to watch this process unfold, and we are grateful to all the stakeholders for the care and attention they paid to [the] case to see that justice was done.”
In 2016, the Texas Forensic Science Commission conducted an audit of the Austin Police Department and found significant problems – including “using an unaccepted scientific method for evaluating DNA, inadequate supervision of analysts, and practices in place that encouraged confirmation bias of result, according to a Travis County press release.
Lawyers who worked with the accused raised concerns in 2018 about the reliability of the DNA interpretations. Last year, the man in the case was able to walk free on bond.
Travis County officials said this is the second previously convicted person to claim evidence from the APD DNA lab used against them resulted in a wrongful conviction and prison sentence.