Innocence Project of Texas client, James Lee Woodard, was released from incarceration yesterday after serving more than 27 years for a murder that he has always maintained he did not commit. The victim, Woodard’s girlfriend at the time of the homicide, was found strangled and sexually assaulted on the banks of the Trinity River in Dallas, Texas. A rape kit was taken, and the evidence was preserved by the Southwest Institute for Forensic Sciences (SWIFS). When subjected to a DNA test, the rape kit indicated that James Woodard was not the victim’s attacker and that he had likely spent more than a quarter century in prison for a crime that he was not involved in.
Although at first glance this case appears to be a relatively simple DNA-based case, more than 1000 hours were spent by both the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and the Innocence Project of Texas investigating Woodard’s claim of innocence. Once the DNA results excluded Woodard as the victim’s rapist, both organizations set out to interview all relevant witnesses and piece together the story leading up to Woodard’s conviction. This collaborative effort is one of the first of its kind, and it is a testament to the integrity of the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.
For more information about the collaborative effort of the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and the Innocence Project of Texas, or to hear about the current state of justice in America today, please consider joining us tomorrow night for “Freedom and Justice in America: A Live Conversation Onstage” at the Angelika Theater in Dallas Texas. Details regarding this event can be found under the “Events” section of the ipoftexas.org website.