Three Men to Be Declared Innocent in 1994 Dallas Robbery

"As we move forward you're going to see more cases where DNA is not an issue," said Dallas D.A. Craig Watkins

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins and Assistant District Attorney Russell Wilson will seek three exoneration in one day for men wrongfully convicted 18 years ago. (Published Thursday, Apr 5, 2012)

    The Innocence Project of Texas says a man serving 99 years in prison for a 1994 purse snatching and two other men convicted of the crime will be exonerated.

    A judge in Dallas on Friday is scheduled to formally declare the trio innocent.

    "We're going to exonerate three individuals that were convicted over 15 years ago for a crime they didn't commit," said Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins.

    Darryl Washington, Marcus Lashun Smith and Shakara Robertson were arrested in November 1994 and charged with aggravated robbery of an elderly person.

    The victim could never identify the men as her attackers but witnesses who chased the purse snatchers but lost sight of them claimed Washington, Smith and Robertson were responsible.

    "There's even a question as to whether or not they fit the description, these individuals happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time," said Watkins.

    A jury convicted Washington and he was sentenced to 99 years. Washington remains in custody. Smith and Robertson, who had no criminal records, accepted plea deals for probation.

    "Here you are faced with the same punishment and here there's probation placed on the table do you take the risk? Or do you take the probation?" said Watkins.

    The Innocence Project says witnesses erroneously identified the men.

    A judge last month held a hearing where four other men confessed to the robbery. The judge agreed with prosecutors who reviewed the case and concluded that Washington, Smith and Robertson are innocent.

    The men who confessed can't be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has run out on this case.

    NBC 5's Randy McIlwain contributed to this report.