By Felix F. Bethel
The Bahama Journal
"Whatever your truth is, you have to stick with it." Cornelius Dupree Jr.
God is good. God is great. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Happy new year to all of you; and as I am supposed to say, I wish you and yours all of God’s blessings on you and yours.
As for me and my house, we shall continue to serve Him.
And so, and yet again, as I put myself in harness for the journey ahead, I am reminded that, I am of the dust and to the dust I must return.
But yet – and even as I tarry – I am reminded that the battle is not mine, but His – and that, in the fullness of time, I shall come face to face with Him on that great gettin’ up morning when the dead in Christ shall rise.
Here I am also convinced that, my testimony would also resonate with that of my brother – that brother of mine, I remind you - whose story was carried by the Associated Press – that story as written by Jeff Carlton.
DALLAS – A Texas man declared innocent Tuesday after 30 years in prison had at least two chances to make parole and be set free — if only he would admit he was a sex offender. But Cornelius Dupree Jr. refused to do so, doggedly maintaining his innocence in a 1979 rape and robbery, in the process serving more time for a crime he didn't commit than any other Texas inmate exonerated by DNA evidence.
Texas is surely one hell of a place.
Today it is surely something else – a place where so very many Lazarus men now walk free, thanks to people like Barry Scheck who have been able to help call them forth.
Evidently, there is really no story that can ever be told that excites me as much as a real story about a real resurrection; that is to say, real flesh and blood men who were buried deep, left to rot and stink and who have returned to the land of the free, the live and the brave.
As reported by Jeff Carlton: 1. Cornelius Dupree Jr. was 20 when he was arrested in December 1979 while walking to a party with Massingill. Authorities said they matched the description of a different rape and robbery that had occurred the previous day.
2. Police presented their pictures in a photo array to the victim. She picked out Massingill and Dupree. Her male companion, who also was robbed, did not pick out either man when showed the same photo lineup.
3. Dupree was convicted of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. According to court documents, the woman and her male companion stopped at a Dallas liquor store in November 1979 to buy cigarettes and use a payphone.
4. As they returned to their car, two men, at least one of whom was armed, forced their way into the vehicle and ordered them to drive. They also demanded money from the two victims.
5. The men eventually ordered the car to the side of the road and forced the male driver out of the car. The woman attempted to flee but was pulled back inside.
6. The perpetrators drove the woman to a nearby park, where they raped her at gunpoint. They debated killing her but eventually let her live, keeping her rabbit-fur coat and her driver's license and warning her they would kill her if she reported the assault to police.
7. The victim ran to the nearest highway and collapsed unconscious by the side of the road, where she was discovered.
Thereafter, Cornelius Dupree, Jr. was arrested; and thereafter, this brother of mine was charged with rape; and thereafter, this good brother of mine was convicted; and thereafter for all of thirty one years, this brother of mine insisted that he was innocent.
Now please believe me when I tell you that, when I woke this morning to the realization that, something had to be said and written that would fill this page of white, I thought to myself for a long while; and after nothing would come from wherever it comes, I decided to say a little prayer.
And as I said that little prayer, I began with the words –Lord help me! And as I prayed a little more, I cried out Lord help me! And as I did this for a third time, I was reminded that this is perhaps what Saint Peter said as he began to sink into the water upon which he had – just like Jesus – walked.
Lord help me!
And as I thought about it a bit more, it occurred to me that, these must have been the words of one of my brothers in Texas - Cornelius Dupree Jr. – when he was arrested some thirty one years ago; arrested and then charged with rape; charged with the rape of a young woman.
As the world now knows, this brother of mine was innocent of this heinous crime.
Notwithstanding his protestations, Dupree was sentenced to 75 years in prison in 1980 for the rape and robbery of a 26-year-old Dallas woman a year earlier.
He was released in July on mandatory supervision, and lived under house arrest until October. About a week after his release, DNA test results came back proving his innocence in the sexual assault.
And knowing that he was innocent; this brother of mine protested the same from the moment he was convicted to that recent moment when he was told that he was free to go.
As reported by the Associated Press and as written by Jeff Carlton – the word today is to the effect that: “…Looking fit and trim in a dark suit, Dupree stood through most of the short hearing, until state district Judge Don Adams told him, "You're free to go."
“One of Dupree's lawyers, Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck, called it "a glorious day."
"It's a joy to be free again," Dupree said.
“This latest wait was nothing for Dupree, who was up for parole as recently as 2004. He was set to be released and thought he was going home, until he learned he first would have to attend a sex offender treatment program.
“Under Texas compensation laws for the wrongly imprisoned, Dupree is eligible for $80,000 for each year he was behind bars, plus a lifetime annuity. He could receive $2.4 million in a lump sum that is not subject to federal income tax.
“The compensation law, the nation's most generous, was passed in 2009 by the Texas Legislature after dozens of wrongly convicted men were released from prison. Texas has freed 41 wrongly convicted inmates through DNA since 2001 — more than any other state.
“Dallas County's record of DNA exonerations — Dupree is No. 21 — is unmatched nationally because the county crime lab maintains biological evidence even decades after a conviction, leaving samples available to test. In addition, Watkins, the DA, has cooperated with innocence groups in reviewing hundreds of requests by inmates for DNA testing.
“Watkins, the first black district attorney in Texas history, has also pointed to what he calls "a convict-at-all-costs mentality" that he says permeated his office before he arrived in 2007…”
And yet, God is good and God is great. Blessed be the name of the Lord; and yet, I wait for the soon-coming of that day when Innocence is no longer nailed to on either Calvary or in today’s Texas.
Texas is surely one hell of a place in the land of the free and of the brave.
January 06, 2011
The Bahama Journal