Texas inmate Michael Blair ended up on death row for the gruesome murder of a 7-year-old Texas girl.
His protestations that he was innocent fell on deaf ears until more than 10 years later genetic tests proved he did not kill the girl.
Now he is asking the state of Texas for nearly $1 million for his wrongful conviction. The demand may not be excessive for a man who spent 10 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Recently a $2.7 million settlement was reached in the case of a New York woman who was falsely accused of murdering her daughter.
But Blair’s bid for compensation is controversial because he is still behind bars. That’s because while he was in jail he confessed to raping two other children and he’s serving multiple life sentences for the crimes.
The inmate’s request has gone up to the Texas Supreme Court. Associated Press reported the case is “forcing a re-examination of laws designed to offer exonerated inmates a new start.”
While Blair’s claim has been denied on a number of occasions by the state comptroller, if the court rules in his favor, the comptroller might have to pay him $80,000 for every single year he was incarcerated for the murder.
Blair was charged with the murder of Ashley Estell, who vanished from a soccer game in 1993 in Dallas. She was found strangled by the roadside. Blair was found loitering close by and was picked up by the police. He had been convicted of previous sex crimes.
Assistant Solicitor General Philip Lionberger told AP lawmakers had never imagined a case like Blair’s would arise and it has sparked calls for a change in the law.
Jeff Blackburn, the state Innocence Project’s chief counsel told AP he believed Blair has a legitimate claim.
“I think we can all agree that nobody really likes the result in this case. But that’s not the point,” he said. “That time, in Michael Blair’s life, was wrongfully taken from him, and the state should pay for it.”
While this is a controversial case the wrongful conviction is just another of many we have reported on in Texas. It’s alarming to think whoever committed this terrible crime in Dallas may still be at large.