October 14, 2008
Jennifer Emily-Dallas-Morning News- Dallas, TX
James A. Fry, who prosecuted Dallas County exoneree Charles Chatman, said he is "shaken to the core" because of the number of exonerations throughout the country and problems with eye witness testimony.
Once a staunch supporter of capital punishment, Mr. Fry said no longer supports it because of the problems in the criminal justice system highlighted by the exonerations.
"I don't think the system can prove who is guilty and who is innocent," he said in an interview at his office in Sherman where he practices family law.
Mr. Fry prosecuted Mr. Chatman in 1981 for the rape of the exonerated man's former neighbor. Mr. Fry said that at the time, he believed the victim had correctly picked out Mr. Chatman from a photo lineup.
This week, The Dallas Morning News is running stories from its 8-month examination of the county's 19 DNA exonerations that show that eyewitness testimony can be flawed.
Dallas County has had more DNA exonerations than any other local jurisdiction since 2001 when the state began allowing post-conviction DNA testing. Unlike most other counties, Dallas County has preserved decades of evidence.