Cornelius Dupree, Jr.

On November 23, 1979, a man and a woman stopped to buy cigarettes at a liquor store and use a pay telephone in the parking lot in Dallas, Texas. As they walked back to their car, two African American men, one armed with a pistol, ordered them back into their car, then both men got into the car as well, and ordered the man to drive away.

The men robbed the couple of their cash. At a nearby park, the robbers forced the man out of the car and took the woman into the park where both men sexually assaulted her. They took her driver’s license and a rabbit fur coat she was wearing and fled in the car.

The woman managed to get to the side of a highway where she collapsed and was found unconscious by a passerby.

A few days later, two men attempted to sell the coat at a grocery store two miles from the liquor store, but left. The victims’ car was found abandoned in the grocery store lot.

On December 1, 1979, police stopped two young African American men, Cornelius Dupree, Jr., 20, and Anthony Massingill, 18, two miles from the scene of the carjacking because they looked similar to two men being sought in a separate sexual assault. Massingill was carrying a pistol and both men were arrested.

The following day, the couple who were carjacked at the liquor store, both of whom were white, viewed a photographic line-up. The woman identified Dupree and Massingill as her attackers. Her male companion was unable to identify either man.

The man and his wife both identified them at trial. On June 25,1980, Dupree and Massingill were convicted of aggravated robbery with a weapon. They were not tried on the rape charge because prosecutors did not believe they could get more prison time for the defendants.

Dupree was sentenced to 75 years in prison. Massingill, who also was convicted of a separate 1979 rape-robbery, was sentenced to three 10-year terms and a life sentence for the two crimes.

After Dupree’s appeals were denied, he wrote to the Innocence Project of New York and in 2007, the project learned that pubic hair combings and cuttings taken from the victim were still preserved. In July 2008, the Innocence Project contacted the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office to request DNA testing.

On July 22, 2010, Dupree was released from prison on parole.

In December 2010, DNA tests found two male profiles, neither of which were from Dupree or Massingill.

On January 4, 2011, Dupree’s conviction was vacated and the charge was dismissed.

As of 2012, Dupree had received $2,499,805 in state compensation.

In 2014, Massingill, with the support of the Dallas County District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit, filed a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus seeking to vacate his conviction in the case in which Dupree’s conviction had been already vacated. In September 2014, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals vacated his conviction for November 23, 1979, robbery and ordered a new trial. The appeals court also ordered a new sentencing for Massingill in his separate rape-robbery case because his conviction in the case with Dupree had been used to enhance his sentence in that case.

On October 17, 2014, the prosecution dismissed the November 23, 1979, robbery charge against Massingill, but he remained in prison serving a sentence for the other crime for which he was convicted. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered Massingill to be resentenced on the other crime because the armed robbery conviction was used to enhance the sentence in the other crime.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 10/23/2014

 

State:Texas
County:Dallas
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1979
Convicted:1980
Exonerated:2011
Sentence:75 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age:20
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes