Posted by Edmond Geary | Posted in Abduction, Criminal defense, Rape, Robbery, Sex crimes, Wrongful Convictions | Posted on 06-03-2011
Two men convicted of rape, robbery, and abduction in 1979 have joined the increasing crowd of exonerated from DNA evidence. They served more than three decades behind bars, more than any others cleared by DNA evidence in Texas. The DNA proof of innocence in this case was the first to reach back as far back to Dallas convictions in the 1970s. Dupree is the twenty-first person exonerated by DNA evidence from a Dallas County conviction.
Cornelius Dupree, Jr., now 51 years old, and Anthony Ray Massingill, now 49, were the two inmates who got the good news. Dupree was going to be released in a Dallas courtroom after having been paroled last summer after serving 30 years of a 75-year sentence. Massingill, however, will have to remain locked up awaiting the results of another DNA test relating to a second rape conviction for which he is serving a life sentence.
Dupree and Massingill were convicted of attacking a 26-year old woman and her male friend at a pay phone outside a liquor store on an Interstate highway. The man and women were confronted at gunpoint and carjacked. The man was allowed out of the car, and the girl was raped at gunpoint. The two perpetrators debated whether to kill her, then threw her out of the car, threatening to kill her if she called the police. She was found unconscious on the highway.
About five days after the crime two, two miles from the liquor store which was the original abduction, two unidentified men tried to sell the woman’s rabbit fur coat Her stolen car was found in the parking lot. Authorities do not believe those two men are Dupree and Massingill. But Dupree and Massingill were arrested two miles from the location of the abduction about ten days after the crime because they matched the description of men wanted in similar case. At the arrest, Massingill had a gun, but Dupree was unarmed.
Once arrested, Dupree and Massingill were mistakenly identified by the rape victim in a photo lineup, but her male companion could not identify their photos.
Once the matter arrived in the courtroom, however, Dupree and Massingill became officially became victims of another unreliable eyewitness identification. Both the young woman and her male companion pointed out Dupree and Massingill to the jury as the perpetrators. In an indication of the unreliability of the identification in this case, the young woman had trouble at trial of keeping straight which defendant was which. The criminal defense attorney must have raised some serious questions about her certainty of that identification, but, of course, the prosecution told the jury the evidence was air tight.
Massingill was given three 10-year sentences and a life sentence from this liquor store abduction plus a 75-year sentence from another 1979 rape and robbery. Dupree received a 75-year sentence for the liquor store robbery, but he was not tried for and rape or abduction. He too was a suspect in the other 1979 rape and robbery, but the grand jury declined to indict him for that crime.
Dupree wrote the Innocence Project for help. In 2007, the Innocence Project accepted the case. It contacted the Dallas County District Attorney’s office about the case in 2008, and the District Attorney’s office then asked the crime lab to search for any evidence in the case. The lab found it had pubic hairs from the rape exam that contained genetic from two men, the two men who committed the abduction, rape and robbery in question. The DNA did not match either Dupree or Massingill. That DNA evidence has not been matched to anyone, but it may not have been entered yet into the national DNA database. Even if the lab does not find any DNA to compare for Massingill’s other case, he may be freed because both crimes were thought to have committed by the same men as the crime committed with Dupree.
Dupree would have been released on parole earlier than last summer on his 75-year sentence if he had admitted his guilt. Such admission is required for rehabilitation, of course. The rehabilitation system is not constructed for the innocent.