Dallas Man Exonerated, Released From Prison 25 Years After Wrongful Murder Conviction

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A Dallas man who spent more than two decades in prison for murder has been exonerated.

Martin Santillan was arrested in 1997, accused of robbery and murder of Damond Wittman outside a Deep Ellum nightclub.

Though there was no physical evidence tying him to the scene, Santillan was convicted on the testimony of a lone witness that put him outside the club even though there were multiple witnesses backing up his alibi that he was somewhere else.

A Dallas County jury sentenced him to life. After spending 25 years behind bars, Santillan has been freed after a yearslong effort to prove his innocence.

New DNA testing on a bloody Dallas Stars jersey helped clear the 49-year-old man. He was released in December and his actual innocence has now been established in court.

"Mr Santillan, at this time I would also like to apologize to you on behalf of Dallas County, the state of Texas, and the entire judicial system, I wish you well and best of luck in your future path forward, and I would be honored to sign this motion to dismiss," said Judge Audra Riley.

Santillan now joins a long and growing list of wrongfully convicted people in Dallas County who have ultimately been exonerated.

Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot has dedicated a lot of time, money and manpower to heping attorneys handle these cases. Santillan's case was investigated by Centurion Ministries, Inc., a Princeton, New Jersey-based innocence organization, and was conducted by the Dallas County DA's Office Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU).

Something that stands out in this case is that not only has Santillan been exonerated, but there is another person in custody after the same evidence that cleared Santillan implicated someone else.

We expect to learn more about those charges soon.

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