FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The highest criminal court in the state has overturned the murder conviction of a North Texas man who spent 19 years in prison for the stabbing death of a friend.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has overturned the conviction of 44-year-old John Earl Nolley.
In May of 2016 Nolley was freed, but not exonerated,after a witness admitted he lied and a bloody palm print at the crime scene was linked to another person.
Nolley had been sentenced in 1998 to life in prison after being convicted of murder in the slaying of Sharon McLane in Bedford. McLane was found dead less than two weeks before Christmas in 1996. She had been stabbed almost 60 times.
Police didn’t arrest Nolley until more than eight months after the murder. The DNA identification was made in 2016 when District Judge Louis Sturns ordered the Bedford Police Department to release items from the case, including a beer can, Coke bottle and a black jacket, to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office. The evidence was then taken to the University of North Texas Health Science Center where new DNA tests were performed.
The witness who lied was a jailhouse informant and the case contributed to changes in state law that placed more controls on testimony provided by informants.
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