After 14 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, 47 year old Ronald Taylor walked out of a Harris County Jail a free man. Houston Public Radio’s Capella Tucker reports Taylor is the third person exonerated after being convicted based on faulty work by the Houston Police Department crime lab.
During the hearing, Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal apologized to Taylor. Rosenthal spoke to the media afterward.
“I felt he was owed an apology and I wanted to congratulate Mr. Scheck and his folks for bringing it to our attention.”
Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project took up Taylor’s case. Scheck says HPD crime lab problems are bigger than the 180 cases indentified in the independent investigation of the lab. He says that probe was limited and did not include all cases where the testing procedure could be questioned.
“When you look at all those cases together there’s about 600 of them and this wasn’t even part of it, because this is one where they just failed to identify a semen stain.”
D.A. Rosenthal says in Taylor’s case, HPD maintained there was nothing to test. Taylor was sentenced to 60 years for rape. The Innocence Project did get the DNA testing done 12 years later. The results matched another man twice convicted of rape. Rosenthal says his office is asking tougher questions of HPD when pursuing cases.
“One of the things we did right after the problems with the crime lab broke, we started training our prosecutors in understanding what questions we needed to ask and what details we needed to get to make sure we were doing the right thing on DNA cases and serulogy cases and things like that. I think now that we know better how to handle those things we’ll be asking tougher questions.”
As for Taylor, his mother, Dorothy Henderson, says she wishes and is looking forward to her son getting married, moving, and having a good life.
“We’ve just been praying, and I just had faith. And I knew within my heart that one day he would get out. I didn’t know how long but I knew one day he would. I just prayed to be able to see him go free.”
Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.