James Curtis Williams

Shortly before 7 p.m. on November 19, 1983, two African Americans armed with a pistol abducted a 27-year-old white woman after she parked her car in a restaurant parking lot in the 2900 block of McKinney Avenue in Dallas.
 
They forced her into her car and pistol-whipped her when she screamed. The victim told police the men drove a short distance and both raped her. She managed to flee, but was shot in the buttocks.
 
Shortly after the crime, two Dallas men—James Curtis Williams, 25, and Raymond Jackson, 38—were hauling rubbish away from a remodeling job when police stopped them for questioning in another crime. Both were released after their photographs were taken.
 
On November 22, 1983, the photographs were used in a photo lineup shown to the victim of the abduction and rape while she was in the hospital for treatment of the gunshot wound. She identified Williams and Jackson as her attackers, and they were charged with aggravated sexual assault on November 28, 1983.
 
Two months later, on January 23, 1984, the two men went on trial in Dallas County District Court.
 
The victim identified them in court. When the lineup photographs were shown to the jurors, Williams’ prior convictions for burglary and theft and Jackson’s prior conviction for robbery were written on the back.
 
A state forensic serologist testified that Williams’ blood-type and enzyme comparison placed him among 14 percent of the adult black male population whose blood and enzyme classification matched the semen recovered from the victim.
 
Three other witnesses connected Williams and Jackson to the victim’s car. One said Williams was driving the car. Two others said they saw Williams get out of the car at 11:15 p.m. the night of the crime and that Jackson was standing next to the car.
 
Fingerprints left on the car were obtained, but none matched either Williams or Jackson.
 
Both men presented alibi defenses. Jackson said he was at home with his wife and talked to his supervisor on the telephone about the time of the crime. Williams said he was playing cards with friends.
 
Both men were convicted by an all-white jury on January 26, 1984. They each were sentenced to 99 years in prison.
 
They lost their appeals.
 
After Craig Watkins was elected District Attorney of Dallas County, he formed a Conviction Integrity Unit in 2007 to investigate claims of innocence by convicted defendants.
 
Petitions by Williams and Jackson, who had earlier sought DNA testing through court petitions, were initially rejected by the unit, but were accepted in 2010 after the biological evidence in the case was located.
 
In September, 2011, DNA tests on the crime scene evidence eliminated Jackson and Williams. In October, 2011, the DNA profiles from the crime evidence were submitted to CODIS, the FBI’s DNA database of convicted offenders, and matched the DNA profiles of Marion Doll Sayles, 55, and Frederick Anderson, 52.
 
Sales was in prison serving a 40-year sentence for an aggravated robbery committed on June 20, 1991. Anderson was in prison serving a 50-year sentence for a conviction for a forgery committed on April 4, 1994.
 
Both admitted their involvement in the rape and shooting.
 
Jackson, who was paroled in 2010 to a half-way house and required to wear a GPS monitor, and Williams, who was paroled in 2011 to house arrest with a similar monitoring device, petitioned for state writs of habeas corpus on March 16, 2012. District Attorney Watkins supported the petitions.
 
On April 30, 2012, both men returned to the same courtroom where they had been convicted nearly 30 years earlier. There, State District Judge Susan Hawk declared both men “actually innocent” and that “justice was not served in this courtroom for you.”
 
Sayles and Anderson were indicted on April 16, 2012 on charges of attempted capital murder. They were not charged with rape because the statute of limitations had expired. Sayles was convicted in December 2012 and was sentenced to life in prison. Anderson was still awaiting trial.
 
As of 2012, Williams had received $1,758,333 iin state compensation.
 
– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 7/16/2012

 

State:Texas
County:Dallas
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1983
Convicted:1984
Exonerated:2012
Sentence:Life
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age:25
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes