Naked City

Sutton (Finally) Clears Name

One month after a Houston judge recommended that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals vacate the rape conviction of Josiah Sutton, who was falsely imprisoned for four years before DNA evidence exonerated him, Gov. Rick Perry on May 14 granted the 22-year-old a full pardon.

In 1998, Sutton was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison based on faulty DNA analysis conducted by the now infamous and recently reorganized Houston Police Department crime lab. Perry's pardon "based on innocence" comes on the heels of a long-awaited, unanimous pardon recommendation from the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, who has chastised the BPP for not acting sooner – Sutton was actually released from prison last year – said in a press release that he was pleased with Perry's decision. "It is a positive step for justice and will help this young man begin to rebuild his life." Still, he noted that Sutton's case is a "shining example" of the problems with the state's criminal justice system. "The incarceration of innocent persons is a threat to the integrity of our entire ... system, and we should take all reasonable steps to rectify the problem," he said. Ellis renewed his call for the creation of an "innocence commission" to study cases of false imprisonment and suggested that the state "seriously consider" ways to reform the BPP "and the manner in which they consider cases like this."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Josiah Sutton, Houston Police Dept., crime lab, DNA testing, Board of Pardons and Paroles, Rodney Ellis

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