Randolph Arledge was released from a Texas prison on Monday after serving nearly 30 years for a crime he did not commit.
Mr. Arledge was sentenced to 99 years in prison in 1984 after he was convicted in the brutal stabbing death of a woman in Navarro County, Texas. His daughter was four years old and his son was seven when he was sent to prison. “Every time he came up for parole,” his daughter Randa Machelle Arledge told the Associated Press, “it was broken, shattered hopes.”
Faulty eyewitness testimony contributed to Mr. Arledge’s wrongful conviction. Two co-conspirators in an armed robbery testified at this trial that he had admitted to stabbing someone in Corsicana and that he had blood on his clothes and knife. One of those witnesses has since admitted lying in court due to a personal dispute with Mr. Arledge.
In 2011, more advanced DNA testing linked evidence from the crime scene to someone else. Law enforcement is searching for the person matched to the DNA. Navarro County District Attorney Lowell Thompson told reporters he’s now committed to finding the actual killer.
On Monday, a state district court judge in Corsicana agreed with prosecutors and Mr. Arledge’s attorneys that he could not be considered guilty in light of the new DNA evidence. He released Mr. Arledge on bond while the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals proceeds to formally overturn his conviction.
Mr. Arledge is the 118th person in Texas to have his conviction overturned by the state courts.
In the United States, 142 people who – unlike Mr. Arledge – were sentenced to death have been exonerated and released. For every ten people executed, one innocent person has been exonerated. Eight people have been exonerated from death row in Alabama.