A Dallas County judge on Tuesday exonerated a man who served 30 years in prison for a wrongful conviction after DNA evidence proved he was innocent. Cornelius Dupree served time for a 1979 rape and robbery, after he was convicted based largely on an eyewitness (mis)identification. A second eyewitness did not identify Dupree as the perpetrator, but he was convicted anyway.
Dupree maintained his innocence all along, but early requests to reexamine the evidence were denied three times. Though this is a common scenario—some 40 wrongful convictions have been overturned in Texas over the past 10 years—Dupree served the third-longest sentence of those wrongfully convicted and later exonerated by DNA evidence in this country. Under a recently passed Texas law, he is eligible for up to $2.4 million in compensation—$80,000 per year for every year served—but the important thing, Dupree says, “is for the system to be fixed, so it just won’t happen to anyone else.”