Dallas, Texas – Dallas man is about to be released from prison after spending 34 years. Prosecutors say they now learned that he didn’t commit the crime.
Benjamine Spencer was convicted in 1987 for killing a man during robbery. A year after, the was granted new trial and was convicted again. The second time he was found guilty for aggravated robbery and received lifetime sentence.
On Wednesday, the Dallas County District Attorney’s office announced that the conviction of Benjamine Spencer should be vacated. Attorneys for Spencer later stated that their client would be released on Thursday.
Spencer has maintained his innocence since he was arrested.
“I know my child didn’t do it, so I have fought with him for 34-years to get him free and I’m still fighting for him,” said Lucille Spencer, Benjamine’s mother.
In the years that have followed, a growing number of others have joined Spencer in championing his innocence. In 2007, now-retired Dallas County Judge Rick Magnis ruled that Spencer had been unfairly convicted before a higher court overturned that decision.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot’s Conviction Integrity Unit took up Spencer’s claims soon after the DA took office.
“We conducted an independent investigation, and when we did that, it was apparent that Spencer was wrongfully convicted,” said Cynthia Garza, chief of the CIU, in a news release.
In March 1987, Jeffrey Young was killed during a robbery, and a witness later claimed she had seen Spencer and another man exiting Young’s stolen car in a dark alleyway. At the time she claimed she could identify Spencer, the witness was at a distance of approximately a football field away, according to court testimony.
There was no physical evidence found that linked either men to the killing or to the vehicle.
That key witness was later found to have given false testimony about her expectation of receiving upwards of $25,000 in reward money, put up by the family of Dallas billionaire Ross Perot, who knew the victim’s family, that would be awarded if the trial ended in a conviction.
While Thursday did not go as they’d hoped and Spencer was not released, family and supporters plan to return to the Dallas County Jail on Friday and beyond if necessary, while his case moves up to the state court of appeals.
“You can’t get Ben back his 34 years. So, what you gon’ do just let him sit there and rot?” said Luccille Spencer.
Spencer spent the majority of his sentence in a maximum-security state prison but is currently being held in the Dallas County jail.