On the request of the District Attorney’s Office, a Dallas County judge today entered a court order finding Rickey Dale Wyatt innocent of a rape for which he served nearly 31 years. Working closely with the Dallas District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit, the Innocence Project secured Wyatt’s release back on January 4, 2012 based on DNA evidence and the failure of the prosecution to turn over evidence pointing to Wyatt’s innocence. Since his release, the Conviction Integrity Unit has conducted a thorough reinvestigation of the case and now agrees that Wyatt is innocent of the crime. Wyatt is the 325th person in the U.S. to have been exonerated by DNA evidence.
Although there are many unanswered questions about the reliability of the identification procedures used, three separate victims identified Wyatt of sexual assaults police believe were committed by the same person that occurred in the South Dallas neighborhood on November 1, 1980, December 19, 1980 and January 6, 1981 with the same modus operandi. Wyatt maintained his innocence from the beginning and turned down a plea bargain of a recommended five year sentence. Despite large inconsistencies between Wyatt and the victim’s original description, Wyatt was convicted of the November 1, 1980 crime and sentenced to 99 years in prison. He was never tried for the other two crimes.