After serving 18 months in Texas prison in the 1980s for a sexual assault he didn’t commit, Eugene Ivory Henton pursued DNA testing to prove his innocence of a 1984 sexual assault in Dallas County. He was officially exonerated in 2006.
On February 18, 1984, a woman awoke in her Dallas County, TX home to find an intruder in the house. The man sexually assaulted her, locked her in a closet and left. The victim told police that she did not know the man and had never seen him before.
A month prior to this crime, Henton had been charged with fencing some tires stolen by some acquaintances and agreed to to plead guilty to burglary in exchange for probation. But when the victim of the rape identified Henton's photograph as the rapist, he faced a potential life sentence if he went to trial and was convicted. So, in exchange for a guilty plea, Henton was sentenced in 1984 to four years in prison. He was paroled 18 months after he entered prison, but continued his pursuit for DNA testing in order to prove his innocence.
He returned to prison in 1995 after he was convicted of an unrelated drug and assault charge and sentenced to more than 40 years, the harsh sentence based on the fact that he was still considered a sex offender on parole. He continued to fight the 1984 wrongful conviction from prison.
Michelle Moore of the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office assisted Henton in applying for DNA testing on evidence from the crime scene in the 1984 case. DNA tests on semen found in the victim’s rape kit proved that another man had committed the crime and Henton’s conviction was overturned on September 1, 2005. Represented by Robert Udashen, Henton filed for a Writ of Habeas Corpus to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. It was granted on February 15, 2006, finally proving that Henton had served time in prison and on parole for a crime he didn’t commit. He remained incarcerated, however, on the unrelated charges.
In June 2007, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals threw out Henton’s sentences for the drug and assault cases because the punishment was based on his wrongful conviction. He was released from prison on October 26, 2007, after a Dallas judge resentenced him to time already served. As of 2012, Henton had received $117,542 in state compensation.