Man Declared Innocent After 14 Years in Prison

Man jailed because he refused to confess

Friday, Nov 4, 2011  |  Updated 5:26 PM CDT
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Dale Lincoln Duke walked out of a Dallas courtroom Friday a free man.

Kristi Nelson, NBCDFW

Dale Lincoln Duke walked out of a Dallas courtroom Friday a free man.

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A Dallas man who has served 14 years in prison for a molestation he steadfastly denied has been declared innocent.

Dale Lincoln Duke walked out of a Dallas courtroom Friday a free man after state district judge Susan Hawk agreed with prosecutors that he did not sexually assault his 7-year-old step-daughter in 1992.

Hawk told the 60-year-old Duke it was her "privilege" to release him, triggering applause and a standing ovation from most in the courtroom.

Duke had entered a no contest plea to the charge and received 10 years' deferred adjudication. He was sentenced to prison for 20 years in 1997 because he refused to admit to the offense.

Since then, the victim has recanted. Last year Duke's attorney found evidence that prosecutors in the 1990s had withheld evidence.

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