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DNA evidence may help overturn decades old sexual assault conviction

A Texas man who has spent over two decades in a state prison for a sexual assault conviction could finally earn long-awaited vindication later this week.

On Thursday, the Dallas County District Attorney's Office and the criminal defense team for 61-year-old Larry Sims will gather for a hearing to present DNA evidence showing that Sims was wrongfully accused (and convicted) of a 1986 sexual assault. (Specifically, the evidence will show that it was not Sims' DNA gathered, but the DNA of another man who was present at the crime scene.)

The Conviction Integrity Unit of the Dallas County D.A.'s Office is supportive of the attempt to overturn Sims' sexual assault conviction.

"The DNA excluded Sims and was a match to a known individual," said Mike Ware, the head of the Conviction Integrity Unit. "We will agree to a favorable finding."

Interestingly, a favorable decision by the judge in Thursday's hearing would not immediately exonerate Simms. However, it will allow him to be released on bail (he is currently incarcerated for minor parole violations) and, more importantly, clear the way for him to pursue a writ or pardon that would result in him ultimately winning his freedom.

"I believe he's innocent, but technically he's not an exoneree without the pardon or writ," said public defender Michelle Moore, Sims' attorney.

Over the past decade, Dallas County judges have exonerated 21 people due to DNA evidence. This large number of exonerations - the highest in the United States - can likely be attributed to the fact that the crime lab in Dallas County keeps DNA/biological evidence for many years.

Stay tuned for further developments from our Dallas criminal defense blog ...

If you or a family member has been charged with sexual assault or any other sex crime, be certain to contact an experienced legal professional.

Related Resources:

Texas sex assault conviction could be overturned (The Houston Chronicle)

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Attorney Chris Lewis