Texan Johnny Pinchback was released from prison last Thursday after serving 27 years of a 99-year sentence. Pinchback was wrongfully convicted of raping two teenage girls in 1984, but with the help of the Innocence Project of Texas, DNA testing proved that he was innocent. Pinchback has become the 22nd man freed by DNA evidence in Dallas County since the passing of a 2001 law that allows inmates to request post-conviction DNA testing.
As in so many other exonerations, Pinchback was convicted because of faulty eyewitness testimony by the victims, who picked him out of a lineup. All but one of Dallas County’s DNA exonerees were originally convicted because of incorrect eyewitness testimony.
In addition, nearly all of the DNA evidence in Pinchback’s case had been lost or destroyed by the time his case was reexamined. Pubic hair cuttings from one of the victims were the only evidence remaining in storage. DNA was found on that sample that excluded Pinchback from being the perpetrator, but had more time passed, his counsel might not have had any evidence to work with.
Now that he’s been released, Pinchback plans to help other people to prove their innocence: “I can’t sit around too long,” he said. “I’ve got guys back there I promised I would help. I’ll be doing God’s work.”