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Monday, August 8, 2011

Ronald Taylor

In 1995, Ronald Taylor was convicted of rape; The Houston Crime Lab declared that there was no DNA evidence in the case, so the victim's testimony that Taylor had raped her was crucial to the case. Taylor became a suspect because someone had seen him "in the area" the night of the rape.

The victim told police that she could not see the face of her rapist, because the room was so dark. She said she had touched his face and described it as best she could. Ten days later, she added more details to her description. Ronald Taylor was called in to participate in a "live" line-up, but since the victim was unavailable, they taped it and one HPD officer showed it to her at her home, weeks later. While viewing this unusual video line-up, the victim said she suddenly recalled that her attacker had been missing a front tooth(did the police woman even bother to ask her how she knew this?), and so identified Taylor as her attacker. Later at the trial, the victim changed her testimony and claimed she saw Ronald Taylor's face for three seconds by the light of the street lamps.

The court seemed to think this qualified as reliable testimony.

Taylor was sent to prison to serve a 60 year sentence. His fiance promised to wait for him. His family worked for his release for 12 years. In 2007, the Innocence Project of Texas sent the sheets to an independent crime lab which found that there was, in fact, DNA and (surprise!) it was not Ronald Taylor's. It belonged to a man that police had eliminated from the investigation. This man, Roosevelt Carroll, had a history of comitting sex crimes.

Taylor was released in 2007, 12 years after his wrongful conviction, and was finally reunited with his family and fiance.

While Taylor was imprisoned, Carroll continued his crimes. He could not be prosecuted for the rape in this case because the statute of limitations had run out by the time they caught him. How many crime victims could have been saved if Rosenthal's DA Office had put in the work required to actually catch the criminals, instead of just locking up whoever happened to be 'in the area'?

Were the sheets taken as evidence from Carlos Coy's house? The little girl testified that she was covered in saliva after the assault; certainly, some of it would have soaked into the bed. Why was that DNA not tested, and used in the trial? If it was properly stored, it may still reveal what really happened that night. The Houston Crime Lab (or what's left of it) needs to release it to an independent testing company, assuming they can dig it out of whatever mountainous pile of untested evidence it is currently buried in.


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