In 1990, three men entered and robbed a home in search of drugs and money. According to a report in The Houston Chronicle, the men broke into a drug dealer's apartment, held the four occupants captive and repeatedly raped two women in the home.
Jimmy Hatton was identified by witnesses as one of the attackers. After his arrest, family members, including his uncle, Wayne Allen Porter, attended the trial. While the trial was in recess, one of the victims noticed Porter in the hallway and identified him as one of the attackers. Porter was arrested and charged with rape and robbery.
Though Porter maintained his innocence throughout the process, he and his nephew were both sentenced to life in prison. The third attacker remained unidentified.
Throughout the years, Porter contacted lawyers and prosecutors arguing his innocence. For over a decade, he was unable to find any defense attorney or prosecutor willing to give his case a second look.
In 2004, Porter was granted a hearing to review his conviction. At that time, according to an ABC report, DNA evidence linked Porter's nephew, Hatton, to the crime. Hatton, who was previously unwilling to exonerate his uncle, admitted to authorities that Porter played no role in the attack. Despite the DNA evidence that failed to link him to the crime, the judge did not release Porter or grant him a new trial.
Last year, Harris County prosecutors helped collect new evidence, including finger and palm prints from the previously unidentified third person. Porter's nephew and another person testified at the hearing and admitted that they, along with another person, committed the crime. This time, the judge recommended that Porter be released on bail.
In July, after serving 19 years in prison, Wayne Allen Porter was finally released. Though released on bond, Porter will have to wait for the Court of Appeals, to rule on whether he should be granted a new trial. The prosecutor in charge of the case, as reported in The Houston Chronicle, says that if the appellate court does grant Porter a new trial, he will move to dismiss the charges against him.
As Porter's case demonstrates, it is important to work with an experienced attorney if you are facing criminal charges. With so much at stake, it is crucial to work with a lawyer who can protect your rights and your freedom.