Collin County DA admits Michael Blair should not be on death row
Months after DNA evidence proved that a hair used to connect Michael Blair
to Ashley Estell did not belong to either person, the Collin County DA has
finally admitted that Michael Blair's conviction cannot stand. On death
row, he is case number 999122, but he won't be there for long.
Don't worry, though. Because this man has confessed to other brutal sexual
assaults, he won't be freed. Ever. But a Texas DA, a Texas jury and
several appeals courts almost had the blood of an innocent man (in this
case) on their hands. He was convicted because he was a known child
molestor who showed an interest in the case. If the process moved as
quickly as death penalty proponents wished it did, he'd be dead by now.
John Roach released this statement today:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
JOHN R. ROACH
Criminal District Attorney
COLLIN COUNTY COURTHOUSE
2100 BLOOMDALE RD., SUITE 20004
McKINNEY, TEXAS 75071
May 23, 2008
In November 2006, in light of the pending appellate litigation and the
potential outcome from that, I assembled a select group of investigators
and prosecutors from my office and assigned them the task of
re-investigating the Michael Blair capital murder case. Since then, the
Team has expended over 5,000 hours, interviewed more than 50 witnesses and
spent over $47,000 on its investigation. They exhaustively reviewed
records, files and evidence related to the case as well as tracking down
new leads and information. DNA testing was performed on a number of items
of evidence that had never before been DNA tested. The result: the Team
discovered no new evidence connecting Mr. Blair to Ashley Estell as well
as no new evidence demonstrating Mr. Blair's guilt.
However, through its work, the Team identified at least one other person
of interest. This person not only exhibited suspicious activity after the
murder, much as Mr. Blair did, but this person cannot be scientifically
excluded as a contributor to a piece of DNA evidence in the case.
Unfortunately, despite strenuous efforts, the Team has been unable to
eliminate or conclusively connect this person to the offense.
At this time, the expert hair comparison testimony in trial that connected
Ashley Estell and Mr. Blair has been disproved by DNA testing of a type
that was not available at the time of the trial in 1994. None of the hairs
belong to either Ashley Estell or Mr. Blair. No other credible,
individualized forensic evidence connects Ashley Estell and Mr. Blair.
Although Mr. Blair has not been exonerated, I believe the evidence as it
now stands meets the criteria for relief under the law. There is no good
faith argument to support the current conviction in light of the facts and
the law as they now exist. Therefore, under my duty to not only uphold the
law but to see that justice is done, the State is joining today with the
defense team in its request for relief.
This case remains in litigation and under investigation. Accordingly, this
office cannot comment further on the matter at this time.
John R. Roach
Criminal District Attorney
Collin County Public Information
210 S. McDonald St., Suite 626,
McKinney, Texas 75069
DNA testing may exonerate 3 more Dallas County inmates
The Dallas County District Attorney's office has approved 3 additional
post-conviction DNA tests for inmates seeking exoneration, prosecutor Mike
Ware said Friday.
This brings the total of approved tests to 20 for those who were denied
under previous district attorney Bill Hill. Of those: 2 men have been
exonerated, 2 men were confirmed as the perpetrators and the other cases
are in various stages of testing or waiting to be tested.
Mr. Ware, who oversees the conviction integrity unit, declined to name the
inmates the DA's office agreed to test.
The review of about 350 inmates' previously denied tests is part of a
partnership between District Attorney Craig Watkins and the Innocence
Project of Texas. About 175 requests have now been reviewed.
Testing is typically denied if there is no evidence to test for DNA or if
testing does not prove guilt or innocence.
The 3 inmates, as well as others approved for testing, will not be tested
until the county finds out next month if it received an $800,000 grant,
which would be used by the conviction integrity unit.
Dallas County's 17 exonerations from genetic evidence is more than any
other county in the nation since the state passed a law in 2001 allowing
(source for both: Dallas Morning News)