Monday, September 29, 2008

Odd twist in latest DNA exoneration

Speaking of movies -- here's a yarn that would make a good film plot:

A man named Clay Chabot is suspected of raping and killing a woman named Galua Crosby. He goes to trial. A key piece of evidence is the testimony of his brother-in-law. The brother-in-law, Gerald Pabst, testifies that Chabot forced him to tie up Mrs. Crosby and then ordered him out of the room; he could hear Ms. Crosby saying "no" before she was shot. With this kind of evidence, it is no surprise that Chabot is convicted. He gets life.

For the next two decades, Chabot insists he is innocent. He requests DNA testing to prove it. Finally, he gets his wish and - guess what - the incriminating DNA belongs to his good samaritan brother-in-law.

What makes the case all the more interesting is that the prosecutor, Janice Warder, had cut a secret deal with Pabst, promising him immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony. Considering his guilt, it was too good a deal to pass up.

And, since no bad deed goes unrewarded, the prosecutor went on to become a judge in Dallas County, Texas; she is now up for uncontested reelection as the District Attorney of Cooke County, Oklahoma.

For Dallas Morning News coverage on this case, see:

Former Dallas County prosecutor who withheld evidence will be Cooke County's District Attorney

Judge calls for retrial in 1986 slaying because of ex-prosecutor's misconduct

Jury convicts man of murder in 1986 Garland slaying

On an unrelated note, the Dallas Morning News also has a cool web page devoted to the Dallas Police Department's cold-case squad and some of its more interesting unsolved cases. Check it out; it's better than the TV series by the same name.

Hat tip: Grits for Breakfast

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