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Exoneree’s Ex-Wife Wants Part Of His Settlement From State

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Robbie Owens Robbie Owens
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A Dallas County man wrongly convicted for crimes he did not commit is back in court.  He’s no longer fighting for his freedom, now he’s trying to hold on to his financial settlement from the state.

Steven Phillips spent some 24 years in prison, before DNA testing exonerated him three years ago.  He received a substantial financial settlement from the state, and now his ex-wife is suing for her share.

A jury was selected Tuesday afternoon, and opening arguments should follow Wednesday morning.

According to documents filed in the case, Steven Phillips received a little more than $1.2 million for the time he spent in prison, roughly $80,000 for every year.  The state also paid the back child support that he would have owed, and he receives a monthly payment.

His former wife Traci Tucker now claims that she is owed a portion of that settlement.

According to the lawsuit, Tucker is claiming that the settlement represents lost wages and therefore she should be entitled to a portion of the compensation under community property laws for the ten years that they were married.  The amount cited in the lawsuit as $800,000.

But the couple married in Arkansas and divorced in Oklahoma.  Neither of which are community property states.

On Tuesday afternoon, Judge Lori Chrisman imposed a gag order prohibiting the principals from speaking about the case, then closed the courtroom to the media.

Legal sources tell CBS 11 that this will be an interesting case to watch because of the possible precedents that could be set.

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