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, forced them into their car and ordered the man to drive away.
The couple was robbed 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 fled. The victims’ car was found abandoned in the grocery store lot.
On December 1, 1979, two young African American men, Cornelius Dupree, Jr., 21, and Anthony Massingill, 19, were stopped by police two miles from the crime scene because they looked similar to two men being sought in a separate sexual assault. Massingill was carrying a pistol and both men were arrested.
On 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 both of them as her attackers. Her male companion was unable to identify either man.
Both victims, however, identified them in court. On June 30, 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 was convicted of a separate 1979 rape-robbery. He 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.
After the exoneration, Innocence Project lawyers continued to seek DNA testing for Massingill on the other case for which he is imprisoned. The District Attorney’s office supports Massingill’s request for exoneration in the carjacking-sexual assault case.
As of 2012, Dupree had received $2,499,805 in state compensation.
– Maurice Possley