Dallas Rape Victim Angry After Convicted Attacker Freed
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In 1981, Rickey Dale Wyatt was sent to prison after Dallas County jurors convicted him of a brutal rape. Wyatt was released from jail Wednesday because of a prosecutorial error during his trial.
But the woman who accused him stands by her story: She says her memory of the crime is as sharp today as the blade that left her body scarred on Nov. 1, 1980.
“I remember everything,” Cynthia Burr, now 51, said Wednesday morning. “I remember everything.”
Burr was 19-years-old when she was grabbed by a man while walking to a convenience store on Municipal St. in Southeast Dallas.
“He took me between two houses. He raped me, he cut my throat, he stabbed me five times in the right breast, once in the left arm, once in the left side,” Burr said.
She survived, and was shown police lineups. It was there that she identified Rickey Dale Wyatt as the man who attacked her that night.
He was convicted of rape and sentenced to life in prison. On Wednesday, a judge released Wyatt after the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office suggested that prosecutors withheld evidence that might have cleared him.
That decision has outraged the victim.
“I think that he shouldn’t be let out,” Burr said.
Burr says authorities are trying to convince her that Wyatt’s brother who died in prison was the man who raped her. They say her initial description given to police doesn’t match the man they arrested.
The 51-year-old said she’s never doubted her senses.
“I know he’s the right guy and I can smell him every day,” Burr said.
She said she will fight any effort by Wyatt to get compensation from the state. But more importantly, she said she wants him retried.
“I want him to be retried,” she said. “I really do because he did this to me.”
The District Attorney’s Office says it’s still considering whether to retry Wyatt.
The prosecutor involved in jury selection during the 1981 trial, Dallas attorney Doug Fletcher, said he’s offended by the District Attorney’s suggestion that crucial evidence was withheld that could have helped Wyatt’s defense.
Fletcher told CBS 11 News, “Any allegations of prosecutorial misconduct involving Mr. [James] Fry or myself are total nonsense. The atmosphere for that just didn’t exist down there at that time. It’s certainly unfair. These were men and women of the highest integrity.”
James Fry, the leading prosecutor in the Wyatt case, currently works as a private attorney in Sherman.
“I take issue with it. I would never withhold or cover up anything. Watkins better be careful before he accuses someone of prosecutorial misconduct,” he said.
Unlike past cases involving wrongful conviction, prosecutor Russell Wilson is not moving for a dismissal of the charge against Wyatt. Dallas County officials have also been careful not to label Wyatt’s release an exoneration.
“We’ve established that there should be at a minimum a new trial and at a maximum a dismissal,” said Russell.
While theoretically the case against Wyatt could be retried, Innocence Project attorney Barry Scheck doesn’t think that will happen.
“I think ultimately we will be able to reach an agreement that dismisses the case,” he said.
A spokesman for the D.A.’s Office also said authorities did notify the victim recently that Wyatt may be released.