Judge Declares Dallas Man Innocent After 14 Years In Prison

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – “You’re free to walk out of this courtroom today.”

Those were the words said just minutes ago to Dale Lincoln Duke. The Dallas County judge set Duke free after he’d served 14 years in prison, for a crime he did not commit.

Ironically, it was Duke’s insistence of innocence that lead to his incarceration. Originally he had been sentenced to probation and counseling for molesting his then 7-year-old stepdaughter, but he was kicked out of a sex offender treatment program and sent to prison, because he would not admit he had committed the crime.

Friday Duke said he does not hold any bitterness toward his accuser and is glad that she recanted her story.

“I felt kind of sorry for her because I understood where she was coming from and I really want to thank her for coming out and saying it – telling the truth,” Duke said.

But Duke does think someone is at fault. He blames his stepdaughter’s aunt for fabricating the story. “I’m more bitter toward the lady that incited her [his stepdaughter],” he said.

Duke said he worked hard to stay optimistic during his years behind bars. “There’s always hope… got to be hope. Sometimes it takes longer than others, but at least it does work.”

Officials in Dallas have worked diligently to overturn false convictions, but Duke’s case is a rarity in that it didn’t hinge on DNA.

The Dallas County District Attorney’s office recently uncovered evidence that prosecutors knew in 1998 there were problems with the case — but withheld the evidence from defense attorneys and worked to keep Duke behind bars.

Thursday the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office extended an apology to Duke. “This is just the first step of making it right and saying, ‘Look, we are sorry for what an ordeal you have gone through’,” said Dallas DA Craig Watkins.

Duke has been declared innocent and his criminal record wiped clean. Since evidence was withheld he is now also eligible for up to $2 million in restitution.

  • http://dallasforme.com/2011/11/judge-declares-dallas-man-innocent-after-14-years-in-prison/ Judge Declares Dallas Man Innocent After 14 Years In Prison — Me and the Chicks

    […] minutes ago to Dale Lincoln Duke, a man who served 14 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. More from: http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2011/1… […]

  • WacoJohn

    $391.39 restitution for each day served. Not NEARLY enough but I hope he gets it. The AUNT should be given 14 years .. and THAT would not be enough either. Why? Because the restitution does not come from the guilty .. it comes out of our pockets .. and ‘we’ are innocent of any of it. Something is wrong here (still) .. something VERY, VERY wrong. The ‘restitution’ system falls very, very short.

    The only thing WORSE than any crime is being convicted of one you are not guilty of.

    • Matt

      I agree. I think the prosecuting attorneys should help the Aunt pay for the restitution and then both go to jail. What a shame the world we live in that they would be willing to withhold important material just to win a case.

      As a teacher I think its absolutely insane that if a student didn’t like me for what ever reason all they would have to do is simply say I did something inappropriate. I would be gone in an instant and possibly even thrown in jail just as easily as this man was.

  • Chris McPhail

    Why is his stepdaughter’s aunt not serving the remainder of his sentence for fabricating the story. This is a crime! A debt must be paid.

  • evans

    No, the DA’s office should be given the 14 years for withholding evidence. Just wait, there are more to be released who are innocense!!

    • Get An Edumacation



  • Marv

    “The Dallas County District Attorney’s office recently uncovered evidence that prosecutors knew in 1998 there were problems with the case — but withheld the evidence from defense attorneys and worked to keep Duke behind bars”

    If anyone should be sentenanced to 14 years it’s the prosecutors

  • Thomas

    It was your tax dollars that paid, a prosecuting attorney, to lie to the court and the defense, who should go to jail!!.

    • Darrell

      Thomas you speak as if tax payer’s were complicit in this cover up that the DA’s office perprtrated on the innocent party at hand. The people involved with the cover should be charged with tampering with evidence or something along that line. We know it’ll necer happen because as long as your a part of the system you get a get out of jail free card(see Texas judge who beat daughter).

      • 2sister

        Darrell what the judge did when he beat his daughter was horrible, but his not being charged has nothing to with his being a judge. it has to do with the state’s statute of limitations. I heard they were looking into whether or not he could be charged on a federal level.

  • Derrick

    After a trial, if it is found that evidence has been witheld or any kind prosecutorial misconduct is discovered, the party that commits the travesty should be sentenced to the exact same sentence the accused/victim was sentenced to. I bet witht aht hanging over your head, you’ll play the game the way it is meant to be played.

  • Zorro

    Criminal justice (or, should I say, injustice) in Dallas County has a long, sad history. This is the latest chapter. Any prosector who is found to have knowingly and intentionally withheld exculpatory evidence should (i) be prosecuted for obstruction of justice and civil rights violations; and (ii) be made to pay the full restitution amount.

    • TNT

      It’s not just Dallas. It’s anywhere there’s an overzealous DA (see Mike Nifong) who is more interested in a record of successful convictions over unbiased truth.

  • John

    Unless the DA who hid the evidence is punished then hiding the evidence will continue.

  • megan

    hello im going threw this with my boyfriend a girls mother maid her say things happen when it didn’t happen she came out in court and said it didn’t happen and then turned around the next day and said it did we can prove he did not do it but no one will listen im lost and stuck and don’t know who to talk to i was if some one would contact me or have any advice on this idk where els tp turn

    • wacojohn

      Megan .. he needs a good defense attorney. If you are in the USA, and he has been charged, and cannot afford one, the Court will appoint one free of charge.

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