Texas has a bad record for wrongful convictions with more than 100 coming to light in recent years. And the revelations keep coming.
This week in Corsicana a 58-year-old Texas man walked free from jail after serving almost 30 years for a crime he didn’t commit.
Back in 1984 Randolph Arledge was sentenced to 99 years in prison for the killing of Carolyn Armstrong. However, a state district judge in Corsicana recently agreed with prosecutors and Arledge’s criminal defense attorneys that he could no longer be considered guilty of the crime after new DNA tests tied someone else to the killing.
The Huffington Post reported Judge James Lagomarsino agreed to release Arledge on bond even though process of overturning his conviction is still pending.
“The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals must accept Lagomarsino’s recommendation for the conviction to be formally overturned, a process that is considered a formality,” reported the Huffington Post.
Arledge said his kids bore the brunt of his wrongful incarceration.
“They suffered more than anybody,” Arledge told reporters after being released. He pointed to his daughter, Randa Machelle Arledge. “She’s always talking about, she wanted me to come pick her up from school. Now she’s picking me up.”
The victim’s body was found in August 1981 on a rural dirt road in Navarro County, Texas according to a court filing by Arledge’s attorneys. She had been stripped naked from the waist down and had been stabbed more than 40 times.
Carolyn Armstrong’s abandoned car, which was found several miles away from the crime scene, contained a number of pieces of evidence, including a hairnet on the driver’s seat. It was later to prove to be an important piece of information. Hair taken from the net was preserved as evidence for 30 years. In 2011, more advanced DNA testing linked samples from the hair net and other items to another suspect.
The arrival of DNA testing and advances in the technology have proved to be the most significant factor in revealing wrongful convictions. There have also been cases of prosecutorial misconduct in Texas.
In this case authorities have not revealed the identity of the suspect. Navarro County District Attorney Lowell Thompson was reported as saying authorities are searching for the person matched to the DNA and have a good idea where he is. The case “will stay open until we solve it,” he said recently.
Incorrect eyewitness testimony played a part in Arledge’s conviction. Two co-conspirators in an armed robbery testified that he had admitted stabbing someone in Corsicana and had blood on his clothes as well as a knife. One of those witnesses later said a personal dispute with Arledge led him to lie in court.
Arledge is the 118th person in Texas state courts to have his conviction overturned, according to the University of Michigan’s national registry of exonerations, the Huffington Post reported.