Alex Constantine - November 4, 2009
By Scott Henson
Pegasus News | October 13, 2009
DALLAS — Richard Miles walked free from a Dallas courtroom on Oct. 12 after 14 years in prison for a murder prosecutors now believe was likely committed by someone else. In the Dallas News coverage of his release ("Withheld evidence in Dallas murder case frees man after 14 years," Oct. 13), we find a bit more detail regarding exactly what evidence was withheld. At trial, prosecutors:
said an eyewitness and gun residue on Miles' hands prove his guilt.
But Miles, 34, who was on probation for drug possession when he was arrested, was tested for gunpowder residue after he was handcuffed – and the levels were low, according to court records.
Several witnesses said Miles was not the gunman after he was picked up by police about 20 minutes after the shootings and returned to the crime scene. Witnesses said the shooter held the gun in his right hand and wore shorts. Miles is left-handed and wore pants.
And then there was the piece of evidence that jurors never heard about: Three months before the trial, a woman phoned police to say her former boyfriend had admitted the crime to her and showed her the 9 mm pistol he said he had fired. That call was noted on a memo found in police files years later. Tom D'Amore, the original prosecutor in the case, said he recalls the case but not in detail. He said Monday that he never had information about that phone call.
With eyewitnesses contradicting each other, it's almost hard to believe Miles was convicted to begin with, so it's easy to see why Craig Watkins' Conviction Integrity Unit believes this new, old evidence justified overturning his conviction.
This was the sixth Dallas man released from prison in the last two years involving cases where the state withheld information from the defense. Indeed, when describing the causes of false convictions -- bad eyewitness ID, false confessions, lying snitches, biased forensics, disengaged defense counsel -- increasingly it seems we must add Brady violations (withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense) to the list of most common causes.