Randy McIlwain, NBC 5 News
Judge Lena Levario Friday formally declared Darryl Washington, Shakara Robertson and Marcus Lashun Smith innocent of the 1994 aggravated robbery of a woman in Dallas.
Three men convicted of a nearly 20-year-old aggravated robbery of a woman in Dallas have been declared innocent of the crime.
District Judge Lena Levario Friday formally declared Darryl Washington, Shakara Robertson and Marcus Lashun Smith innocent of the robbery.
"It's a great feeling you know, it's been a long time you know, justice was finally served," said Darryl Washington.
"It's a good feeling, it's been a long time, it's been a lot of years ago," said Shakara Robertson.
"I had lost hope, I felt that I would bare this thing the rest of my life," said Marcus Smith.
The Innocence Project of Texas and the Dallas County District Attorney's Office say the three men were implicated in the 1994 robbery by a faulty eyewitness. Two others supposedly involved were juveniles.
Washington was sentenced to 99 years for the robbery. Robertson and Smith took plea deals and received probation
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said race led to the arrests, misidentification and convictions.
"It's our opportunity with these three men here, and all the exonerations that we've had, to have an honest conversation about race in our criminal justice system," said Watkins.
The court erupted in applause as Judge Levario recognized Watkins' efforts. "I think Craig that if you had not been elected along with the judges, I don't think we'd be having as many exonerations because it didn't happen that often before," said Levario.
Four people have since admitted to the crime. Levario says their testimony is credible.
"I hope that my children are able to grow up in a different world than I grew up in. Hopefully I won't be in here with one of my sons because they've been racially profiled," said Smith.
While Smith already is free, Washington and Robertson are serving sentences on unrelated charges that were impacted by their wrongful convictions. Washington is expected to be released in a couple of months.
Robertson may be the only one eligible for compensation from the state as the time he served was directly related to his wrongful conviction.