Free After Five years in Prison

A Houston man is getting his first taste of freedom in years. DNA tests show he was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault. Today attorneys asked a judge to release him. Bill Stamps has the story.
Assistant District attorney Roe Wilson stood outside the courtroom answering reporters questions, while across the street at the county jail 51-year old Ricardo Rachell was preparing to become a free man for the first time in five years.

Rachell was convicted of raping an 8-year old boy in 2002. He was serving a 40 year sentence and it was just recently that a DNA test showed he was innocent. Assistant DA Wilson says she doesn't know why DNA wasn't tested back then.

"Ultimately, the system worked for this man."


Reporter: "But after he did eight years in jail, right.

"That's correct."


Reporter: "I don't know if that's working."

"I really can't answer to that"

Rachell was shot in the face with a shotgun many years ago. It left his face partially disfigured. In the rape case both the young victim and another child identified Rachell as the attacker, but according to an appeals judge; neither boy ever mentioned anything about his face.

But now, five years later Rachell has been cleared

"Our office wants to see that justice is done and that's really what we're striving for. And in this case, ultimately, the justice was to get him out of custody as soon as we learned the results of the testing, and realized that it was not him."

As a free man Rachell can seek a full pardon, which would clear his name completely and it would entitle him to almost 300-thousand dollars from the state. The catch is...he has to agree not to sue.

Bill Stamps, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.