In 1996, the 12-year-old daughter of Wesley Ronald Tuley’s girlfriend accused him of raping her in Dallas, Texas.
Tuley, 27, went on trial in July 1997 and the jury deadlocked 10-2. Immediately after a mistrial was declared and while Tuley still did not know the 10-juror majority had voted for acquittal, the Dallas County assistant district attorney offered him a deal: plead guilty in return for a sentence of 10 years supervised release. Given five minutes to make a decision, Tuley, who had already spent 10 months in jail awaiting trial and had no money to pay further attorney’s fees, pled guilty.
Two years later, Tuley’s supervision was revoked for drug use and he was sent to prison to complete the rest of the 10 year term. While in prison, he learned that his accuser recanted and said she concocted the allegation because she wanted her mother to break off her relationship with him.
In 2002, Tuley filed a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus based on the recantation. The trial court issued the writ and vacated Tuley’s conviction. On December 18, 2002, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the decision, saying that “no rational jury would convict” him with the new evidence.
On February 7, 2003, while the court considered a prosecution motion for a rehearing, Tuley was released from prison on bail – with an electronic ankle monitor and a directive to register as a sex offender. In July 2003, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied the state’s motion for rehearing, nullifying Tuley’s conviction and removing the restrictions that were attached to his earlier release.
– Maurice Possley