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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 17:35 EDT

Investigation Discovery’s DALLAS DNA Profiles the Headline-Making Dallas County Conviction Integrity Unit As It Seeks Justice Through Post-Conviction DNA Testing

March 2, 2009

- Investigation Discovery Given Exclusive Access to CIU as It Opens Cold Cases and Exonerates Innocent Men, Sometimes After Decades Behind Bars -

SILVER SPRING, Md., March 2 /PRNewswire/ — Starting today the United States Supreme Court evaluates the constitutional right prisoners have to post-conviction DNA testing in the case of Osborne v. District Attorney’s Office for Third Judicial District. In many cases, this forensic testing method is a compelling tool for exonerating those wrongfully accused and helping to find those who are guilty. As the impact of this case unfolds in America’s judicial system this spring, Investigation Discovery’s new six-part series DALLAS DNA, world premiering Tuesday, April 28 at 10 PM (ET), chronicles a pioneering unit within the Dallas County’s District Attorney’s office where post-conviction DNA testing is used to clear the innocent and confirm the guilty.

When Craig Watkins ran for district attorney in Dallas County, Texas, he promised to fight for justice and through an innovative and unconventional new division he founded; he’s been true to his word. In July 2007, Watkins created the nation’s first Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) run by a DA’s office and tasked it with re-examining hundreds of petitions submitted by inmates seeking post-conviction DNA testing and reinvestigating the cases that could be possible examples of injustice. Dallas County has more exonerations than any other jurisdiction in the nation since state law began allowing post-conviction testing in 2001. In that time, more than 40 cases have received post-conviction DNA evidence analysis and the results have stunned the nation — to date, 19 cases were found to have wrongful convictions, and under DA Watkins’ leadership ten innocent men have walked free.

Investigation Discovery’s cameras were granted exclusive and unprecedented access to the groundbreaking work of the CIU from the DA’s office and the court system to the prisoners and their families. The gripping new series chronicles a wide variety of exonerations including: the case of Johnnie Lindsey who served 26 years in prison for a sexual assault he did not commit; and the case of Patrick Waller who served 16 years of a life sentence for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and two 30-year sentences for aggravated kidnapping. In addition, DALLAS DNA follows prisoners who abuse the opportunities provided by the CIU and their desperate hopes that DNA evidence will help free them for crimes they did commit. One case covered by the series is Gregory Wright’s death penalty appeal through the CIU and ultimately his final days as he continued to claim innocence despite the conclusive DNA testing results.

Traditionally, defense lawyers and organizations like the Innocence Project lead the re-examination of these types of cases, which makes District Attorney Watkins’ CIU so revolutionary. For some of the petitioned cases, the CIU reviews all available evidence, which can also include conducting new interviews with witnesses and testing DNA evidence using methods that were not available at the time of the original conviction. DALLAS DNA follows the dedicated staff of the CIU as they unravel the mysteries of each case, ultimately confirming guilt or watching as an exonerated prisoner takes his first steps as a free man. When new DNA evidence is made available to investigators, it can also provide a shocking resolution to some cases — forensic proof of the actual perpetrator.

DALLAS DNA viewers witness powerful personal moments, such as when an exoneree meets his son for the first time or enjoys a simple pleasure like taking a leisurely morning stroll after decades behind bars. These men also need to assimilate back into society, reconnect with families and rebuild all aspects of their lives. These new challenges present a difficult transition, but one that each man has dreamed about for years.

DALLAS DNA was produced for Investigation Discovery by Touch Productions with Malcolm Brinkworth as executive producer. For Investigation Discovery, Christo Doyle is executive producer, Deborah Adler Myers is senior vice president of programming and Clark Bunting is president and general manager for Investigation Discovery.

About Investigation Discovery

Investigation Discovery (ID) is the source for fact-based investigative content about culture, history and the human condition. ID, the new authority in real investigations, is expanding partnerships with leading news organizations and production companies to bring the strongest analytic, factual investigative and current affairs programming to more than 52 million U.S. households. Providing the highest quality investigative programming focused on fascinating stories of human nature from the past to the present, Investigation Discovery’s in-depth documentaries and series challenge viewers on important issues shaping our culture and defining our world. For more information, please visit investigation.discovery.com.

About Discovery Communications

Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) is the world’s number one nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in 170 countries. Discovery empowers people to explore their world and satisfy their curiosity through 100-plus worldwide networks, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel, Planet Green, Investigation Discovery and HD Theater, as well as leading consumer and educational products and services, and a diversified portfolio of digital media services including HowStuffWorks.com. For more information, please visit http://www.discoverycommunications.com.

* * Please visit Investigation Discovery’s section at www.press.discovery.com for press materials, photography, online screeners for DALLAS DNA. * *

SOURCE Investigation Discovery


Source: newswire