Released in 2004 after serving 17 years in prison for rape, George Rodriguez was finally pardoned this past Friday for a crime that DNA proves he didn’t commit.
Convicted in 1987 after being misidentified in a lineup, Rodriguez, now 50 years old, was set free seven years ago after an appeals court found that the scientific evidence used in his trial was faulty. His request for a pardon originally denied, State District Judge Belinda Hill has granted the Harris County District Attorney’s request to formally declare Rodriguez innocent.
Rodriguez’s long-awaited pardon comes as a result of a new initiative launched by Harris County District Attorney Patricia Lykos. After taking office in 2009, Lykos created the Post Conviction Review Section to re-examine cases of credible innocence. New DNA tests in the Rodriguez case came back February 22, 2011. They conclusively ruled out George Rodriguez as a perpetrator of the rape for which he had been convicted.
Patricia Lykos released a statement last week regarding this case, saying, “When this scientific inquiry began, there was no legal requirement or mandate for any further work to be done by our office, because the case had been dismissed. Instead, we acted on the most important obligation of all – to see that the truth emerges, and that justice is done. Today, we can state that an innocent man has been vindicated.”
Though he’s been free since 2004, Rodriguez was never officially pardoned, until now. Without the Post Conviction Review Section, he might never have been.