Cornelius Dupree
Cornelius Dupree Jr. is an American who was declared innocent of a 1980 conviction for aggravated robbery
Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear....

, which was alleged to have been committed during a rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 in 1979. He had been parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...

d in July 2010, after serving 30 years of a 75-year prison sentence in Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

. Prosecutors cleared him of the crime after a test of his DNA profile did not match traces of semen evidence from the case. Dupree, who had been represented by the Innocence Project
Innocence Project
An Innocence Project is one of a number of non-profit legal organizations in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand dedicated to proving the innocence of wrongly convicted people through the use of DNA testing, and to reforming the criminal justice systems to...

, spent more time in prison in the state than any other inmate who had been exonerated
Exoneration occurs when a person who has been convicted of a crime is later proved to have been innocent of that crime. Attempts to exonerate convicts are particularly controversial in death penalty cases, especially where new evidence is put forth after the execution has taken place.The term...

 by DNA evidence.

Rape and robbery case

On November 23, 1979, a 26-year-old woman and a male companion became the victim of a carjacking
Carjacking is a form of hijacking, where the crime is of stealing a motor vehicle and so also armed assault when the vehicle is occupied. Historically, such as in the rash of semi-trailer truck hijackings during the 1960s, the general term hijacking was used for that type of vehicle abduction,...

 after visiting a liquor store in Dallas, Texas. The abductors drove the woman to a park nearby, where they raped her. The perpetrators decided not to kill her, but kept her rabbit fur
Rabbit hair
Rabbit hair is the fur of the common rabbit. It is most commonly used in the making of fur hats and coats, and is considered quite valuable....

 coat. About two days later, two men were seen trying to sell the coat at a grocery store two miles away. The victims' car was found in the parking lot. Dupree and Anthony Massingill
Anthony Massingill
Anthony Massingill is an American who was convicted in a Dallas, Texas court of a 1979 rape and robbery for which recent DNA test results support his claim of innocence. He was jointly convicted in the case along with Cornelius Dupree who was on January 4, 2011 fully exonerated of the charges...

 were arrested the following month because they resembled suspects from a different sexual assault and robbery case. However, Dupree did not match the description of the perpetrators of the November carjacking.

Trial and appeals

The 26-year-old victim picked out Dupree and Massingill from a police lineup, but her male companion did not. Dupree was charged with armed robbery and rape, but was never tried on the rape charge. In 1980, he was convicted and sentenced to 75 years in prison for aggravated robbery. Three of Dupree's appeals were rejected by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the court of last resort for all criminal matters in the State of Texas, United States. The Court, which is based in the Supreme Court Building in Downtown Austin, is composed of a Presiding Judge and eight judges....

. Two of the appeals were denied because he refused to admit to being a sex offender
Sex offender
A sex offender is a person who has committed a sex crime. What constitutes a sex crime differs by culture and by legal jurisdiction. Most jurisdictions compile their laws into sections such as traffic, assault, sexual, etc. The majority of convicted sex offenders have convictions for crimes of a...

. He declined early release in 2004 in exchange for attending a treatment program for offenders because he felt it would have amounted to admitting guilt. Dupree later said, "Whatever your truth is, you have to stick with it." Dupree continued to write letters to people and organizations around the state in his bid to prove his innocence.


In 2006, the Innocence Project took Dupree's case and carried out a forensic examination of the case evidence in 2010. He was represented by a legal team that included project co-founder Barry Scheck
Barry Scheck
Barry C. Scheck is an American lawyer. He received national media attention while serving on O.J. Simpson's defense team, winning an acquittal in the highly publicized murder case. Scheck is the director of the Innocence Project and a professor at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York...

. Dupree was parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...

d in July 2010 and married his longtime fiancée Selma Perkins the day after his release. Soon afterwards, test results indicated that the evidence contained DNA from two men, but not Dupree nor Massingill. Dallas County
Dallas County, Texas
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,218,899 people, 807,621 households, and 533,837 families residing in the county. The population density was 2,523 people per square mile . There were 854,119 housing units at an average density of 971/sq mi...

 District Attorney Craig Watkins
Craig Watkins
Craig Watkins is currently the district attorney for the Dallas County, Texas, USA. He became the first African American district attorney in Texas when he was elected in 2006....

 stated, "Our Conviction Integrity Unit thoroughly reinvestigated this case, tested the biological evidence and based on the results, concluded Cornelius Dupree did not commit this crime." Under the Tim Cole
Tim Cole
Timothy Brian Cole was an African-American military veteran and a Texas Tech University student wrongly convicted of raping a fellow student in 1985....

 Compensation Act of Texas, the strongest compensation legislation in the United States, Dupree is entitled to $80,000 for every year in prison, which amounts to $2.4 million plus a lifetime annuity
Annuity (finance theory)
The term annuity is used in finance theory to refer to any terminating stream of fixed payments over a specified period of time. This usage is most commonly seen in discussions of finance, usually in connection with the valuation of the stream of payments, taking into account time value of money...

. The money can be received in a lump sum and is not subject to federal income tax
Income tax
An income tax is a tax levied on the income of individuals or businesses . Various income tax systems exist, with varying degrees of tax incidence. Income taxation can be progressive, proportional, or regressive. When the tax is levied on the income of companies, it is often called a corporate...

. Massingill was also absolved of the 1979 crime, but remains in prison on a different sexual assault conviction that is also being contested.

Since 2001, about two dozen convictions have been overturned on DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 evidence in Dallas, more than any other county jurisdiction in the United States. 41 wrongly convicted prisoners have been freed in the state of Texas through DNA testing, more than any other state in that same time period. The review of many cases in Dallas has been made possible because the county crime lab retains evidence for decades after conviction.

See also

  • Dallas DNA
    Dallas DNA
    Dallas DNA is an American television program that premiered on April 28, 2009 on the Investigation Discovery cable channel. It documents the cooperation of the Dallas County, Texas District Attorney Office with several law school innocence programs...

  • Innocence Project of Texas
    Innocence Project of Texas
    -Organization:The Innocence Project of Texas was founded in 2007 by the directors of several independent actual innocence organizations in the State of Texas. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to overturning wrongful convictions, and it is staffed by students, volunteers, dedicated...

  • List of miscarriage of justice cases
  • Overturned convictions in the United States
    Overturned convictions in the United States
    - Alabama :Blount CountyBill Wilson was convicted of the 1912 murder of his wife and child. He was exonerated in 1918 when they were both found living in Indiana.Jackson County...

External links

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